John Harrison

The presentation to John Harrison, pictured on the front page, was made in recognition of his role as Chairman of FONS since its inception in 2017, but he has always been a railway man as can be seen from the information supplied by Guy Jackson.

He joined British Rail at the tender age of fifteen as a trade apprentice, before rapidly moving upwards to a staff position and then to the Supervisory grades. By the time he was 31 he was stationed at St Pancras, looking after the British Railway Hotels.

In the early 80s he worked with Blind and Deaf groups, managing to get the system changed to allow them to travel First Class. At 51 years of age he moved to Materials Management dealing with “Rail Freight Distribution”, an all new system which entailed working with the French and the Belgians. By now he was just two grades below Director level and had moved yet again.

This was followed by a 6 month spell in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he found the natives charming and his team mates “snobby” but abhorred the corruptions and fiddles. However, he took the opportunity to learn Swahili!

By now he was saddened as BR moved towards privatisation and decided to retire in 1996, just 53 years old.

Strangely, railway men never really seem to retire. So after a spell in Australia and a couple of days a week at Leicester University he moved on to sorting out all sorts of Railway-associated problems, right up to 76 years of age – still a railway man at heart.

The story would not be complete without reference to Friends of Narborough Station (FONS). John saw the need for station improvements and started FONS in 2017. He enlisted the help of our local MP and held talks with all interested parties both at their premises and in Westminster.

Since 2017 over £1m has been spent on our station which includes: A major refurbishment of the footbridge; Repairs and repainting of the signal box; Reorganisation of the Short Stay Car Park to make it more disability friendly; Refurbishment of the Ticket Office, Toilet and Waiting Room. In addition to these there are the regular clean ups and planting carried out by volunteers. Truly a worthwhile organisation of which John is justifiably proud.

While John has found it necessary to stand down as Chairman now, we must acknowledge that without his drive, knowledge and ambition the FONS committee would have struggled to get so far and so effectively.