It is with deep sadness that we have to advise that DPS volunteer and former board member Martin Harris passed away on Tuesday 29th July. Many members will remember Martin as the Volunteer Liaison Officer for 55019, a role which he undertook for many years until 1996. Prior to that, he was a regular volunteer at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in the 1980s. Ian Dobson, who served on the committee with Martin for a number of years, writes:
“I first came across Martin in the very early days on the Moors. He was one of the ‘Grosmont Service Crew’ originals and travelled many miles up to Grosmont month after month in his Reliant three wheeler from Burton Latimer – around 195 miles each way. He didn’t quite come the furthest but he was certainly the only one of us with a car that didn’t have a wheel at each corner! He was always a pleasure to work with and would turn his hand to pretty much anything that needed doing. Long days and nights repainting 9 and 19 in the rare times we got them under cover – a luxury that today’s volunteers probably take for granted. He was also probably one of the most dedicated DPS volunteers of the early years as he joined with a few of us at Butterley when Tulyar was first bought to work on her before Mike Hallam-Rudd managed to set up his own East Midlands Service Crew. When 19 moved to Loughborough Martin followed (in a four wheeler by then I think) and he then followed 19 back up north to the East Lancs eventually. His dedication to 19 was absolute. I recall one January that he had been amazed that he had been the only DPS volunteer to turn up and celebrate 19s birthday between Christmas and new year. The fact that he hadn’t mentioned that he was going may have contributed to that, but he had still trekked up to Grosmont in his trusty reliant and raised a solitary glass in the cab!<
I also recall around Christmas in the early days at Butterley when Mike, Ray, Martin and I had been doing something with a fork lift around Swanwick and managed to land one wheel in a rather deep hole from which it could not be extracted. After much head scratching we eventually fired up 55015 and via a pulley system extracted the fork lift with a rope off Tulyar's coupling hook! I remember vividly our possibly alcohol-fuelled parody of 'the twelve days of Christmas' in the DPS caravan that night ending with "..and a fork lift stuck in a big hole".
Martin always a stalwart of the sales stands with me too, Pickering, Grosmont, Swanwick, Coalville, Bridgnorth and Basingstoke spring to mind. We even set up the 'Support Coach Appeal' together at one point with a prospectus that included a possible future use as "..to accompany our locos on the main line". We never did buy the coach, even if we did manage the main line bit. The proceeds did buy a CCT for the DPS at Rothley though so at least we achieved something! Our other claim to fame was enthusing a man and wife about diesel preservation whilst behind a DPS sales stand so much that they went out and bought 50031 from BR - not that we knew what we, or they, had done until much later!
In latter years we went our separate ways and he kept himself amused with the Northampton and Lamport Railway, being involved with a DMU set. No mad three wheel dashes to Yorkshire any more, local to home and feet up by the fire every night! Martin still used to pay occasional visits to Barrow Hill and attend the AGM, and when I last spoke to him - around 12 months ago - he was operating a cottage industry from home refurbishing DMU heaters, not Napiers, but not easy things to look after either! Whenever our paths did cross we would always talk of happy early days on the Moors and elsewhere and I know that those of us who were privileged enough to have been involved in those early days on the Moors have many happy memories of those times - and Martin's wonderfully dry sense of humour and smile will never be far away from those. He joins Marj Hamilton in the great Tavern in the sky - I'm sure they're sharing a pint of Strongarm and laughing together already."