Former Sevenoaks Signalman gets his Steam Train Wish

Tom Hillier waiting to board
Tom Hillier waiting to board

With the support of The Wish Appeal, Staff at Woodgate Residential Home in Tonbridge granted a wish for a resident and former train signaler to take one more trip aboard a classic steam train.


When he followed in his father’s footsteps working as a signaler at Sevenoaks Rail Station as a young man, Tom Hillier had no idea he would develop a lifelong love for steam trains. Now living at the Tudeley Lane residential home, 93-year-old, Tom is still a big fan of the retro railway, so staff granted a wish for him to take a trip aboard the Spa Valley Railway.


Accompanied by care staff and his son and daughter, Tom made the journey to Tunbridge Wells West Station on the 18th February to have his wish granted. The group boarded the heritage train and enjoyed a scenic journey to Groomsbridge, tucking into a lunch of fish and chips along the way.


As well as taking in the beautiful Kent and Sussex countryside and browsing the historic collection of locomotives and carriages, Tom purchased a baseball cap as a souvenir from his trip, which he hasn’t taken off since he returned home.


After the outing, Tom’s family commented: “We never thought this day would come, especially after dad was so poorly last year. Thank you to everyone.”


The Wish Appeal was created by The Abbeyfield Kent Society to grant wishes for residents living in its homes across the county. Whether they want to watch their favourite team play football or visit the town they grew up in, the Society aims to make these wishes come true.


The appeal relies solely on donations, to donate visit, or text ‘WISH05’ followed by the amount to 70070, e.g. ‘WISH05 £10’.


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