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World News

Tea and reassurance - Salisbury vicar thanks local community for help after train crash

by Donna Birrell

The vicar of a church in Salisbury has thanked members of the local community who rallied around to help passengers from a train crash on Sunday evening.

St Mark's Church in Salisbury opened its doors to people who'd been injured and shaken when a train crashed into another train which had derailed. 

It's vicar Reverend Andy Bousfield tells Premier what happened:

"I got a call at about 7.40pm. We'd had a very busy day at church already but then I picked up the phone. It was a policeman standing outside the church, saying there's been an incident on the trains and could we use St Mark's as a kind of recovery centre. I was able to be there quite quickly, but I hadn't heard anything on the news up to that point. So, as it was I went into it very blindly, but very happy to open up the church for them.

"I called a colleague, churchwarden Jo King and I think she spent the next half an hour on the phone. "So before long there were messages of support, people praying, and offers of people to come down."

St Mark's is about a five-minute walk from the scene of the incident and Rev Andy says the emergency services were able to get the passengers off the train and up the railway cutting and into the church quite quickly. 

"I think at one point there were five of us and we were able to switch on the heating, stick on the kettle and then people started pouring in. We're set out as a café-style church at the moment because of Covid, so it was kind of ready for them, with no pews. People had places laid out ready just to receive people and then we started to have offers from the local community, people bringing in milk and blankets and someone brought in a lovely bowl full of chocolates. Someone else brought in some fruit - and I don't know who any of these people are. But thank you so much to all of you for your kind donations.

"I think there were between 80 and 90 people who came and most of them seemed absolutely fine. They'd left things on the train and they were a little bit discombobulated and just needed a safe space really to sit and to collect their thoughts or phone friends or loved ones. But some had a few minor injuries and they were being dealt with. Some seemed a bit shaken by the experience, as you'd expect. Especially those who were closest to the front of the train.

"The emergency services were there and they had a process so we very much took a back-seat. We kept finding people water and cups of tea and one or two wanted to talk and engage with us. It's lovely just to be able to offer them a bit of reassurance and just a kind word or two. But we did leave the counselling and the care to the emergency services."

Rev Andy says that because the emergency services were so efficient, most of the passengers had left the church by midnight.  



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