Posted 1st April 2009 | No Comments

Musical treat at end of Bernard’s rainbow

Bernard takes a view from the footplate.

RETIRED train driver Bernard Rainbow will never forget the time he travelled to Buckingham Palace to be presented with an MBE.

As he stepped up for the royal presentation by Prince Charles, the 74-year-old former British Rail man got the surprise of his life.

“Prince Charles took one look at me and said, ‘You’re from the Severn Valley Rail-way. I recognise you from when I travelled on the railway last year’.”

Bernard, who has been chief traction inspector on the Severn Valley Railway for 26 years, told Railnews: “I said ‘I am delighted you remembered me’. 

“It was the day on which the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall travelled on the railway to commemorate its opening after the £3 million flood repairs had been carried out.”

The railwayman received his accolade to mark nearly 60 years of work in railway preservation. A founder member of the Birmingham Rail Museum at Tyseley, he is now depot superintendent at the museum.

During his 44-year career with British Rail he drove steam and diesel locos that hauled the Royal Train.

It was Bernard’s third visit to Buckingham Palace, having been to two garden parties previously, and he was accompanied by his wife Margaret, son Gary – an Arriva Trains operational standards manager based in Birmingham – and daughter Julie.

“I have had a fantastic career but I have to say that it could not have happened without my wife giving me the time to do all these things. She has been marvellous.”

The special day was rounded off with another great surprise – a piece of music play-ed unwittingly by the band of the Blues and Royals.

“As we left, the band was playing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’,” said Bernard. 

“It was pure coincidence but you can’t get better than that!”