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Keith and Dufftown Railway Association's 1940s Weekend makes long awaited return


By Ewan Malcolm

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The Keith and Dufftown Railway Association's 1940s Weekend returned for the first time in three years.

The Desert Rats pay a tribute to former colleague Nigel Bodiam. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images
The Desert Rats pay a tribute to former colleague Nigel Bodiam. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images

Living history groups from far and wide travelled up to Moray over the weekend June 18-19 as both Keith and Dufftown stations adopted a wartime look.

Reenactors adorning era-appropriate clothing featured prominently over the course of the two day event with land girls, police officers, soldiers and even a German spy making an appearance.

Some 1940s arrivals at the Keith-Dufftown railway. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images
Some 1940s arrivals at the Keith-Dufftown railway. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images

This year's event was held in memory of Nigel Bodiam who was the main driving force in raising the profile of the heritage railway line by introducing events such as the 1940s Weekend.

Helen, his wife and a teacher at Elgin Academy, said: "It's lovely that we've been able to get everyone together again.

"It was Nigel really who brought everyone together in the first place.

"The people who have travelled up for the weekend have done so for Nigel so his legacy is there in just bringing all of these people together.

Nigel Bodiam.
Nigel Bodiam.

"It has gone really well and we're really pleased that everyone has enjoyed it."

Nigel had been a member of the Desert Rats Living History Group which aims to teach people about the conditions British soldiers were fighting in during the WW2 campaign in Africa.

Members from the group made the 670 mile journey from Kent in order to pay tribute to their former member.

Richard Nixon, who acted as the group's commanding officer on the day, said: "It's great to be back because the last two years really have been a bit of a black hole.

"This is a good way to pay tribute to Nigel because he obviously started this weekend event and got everybody involved.

The Women's Land Army, from left, Linda Stuart with mum Isabella Stuart and Yvonne Stuart. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images
The Women's Land Army, from left, Linda Stuart with mum Isabella Stuart and Yvonne Stuart. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images

"We've all got friends and met people through this. That's really what Nigel did - he brought people together.

"That's why it's important to keep it going."

Nigel's ability to bring people together was further emphasised after Dutchman Kees Neggers made the trip to Dufftown at the weekend to pay tribute to the event's late founder.

Kees had met Nigel in 2017 while on holiday in Scotland. After a brief chat, Nigel invited him to the 1940s Weekend.

He has played the role of a Dutch resistance fighter ever since to teach people about Britain's close ties to the movement during the war.

"Dutch resistance fighters were actually trained here in Scotland during the war which is something I don't think a lot of people know," Kees said.

Serving up a brew at the 1940s weekend. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images
Serving up a brew at the 1940s weekend. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images

"That was actually my condition to Nigel for me to come along. I wanted to play the role of a Dutch resistance fighter to teach people about that because without the help of Britain during the war I might not be here today.

"When I heard that Nigel had passed I phoned Helen and promised her that I would be here today."

The event's return not only paid tribute to Nigel but also acted as a marker of the association's return to normality with more events planned for later in the year.

"It's also a business so we want to bring as many people in so having events like this really helps to do that," Helen said.

"That's ultimately why Nigel started it and we're keen to continue it."

Steve and Sheely Flintcroft from Dufftown with their 1932 Hillman Minx military car. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images
Steve and Sheely Flintcroft from Dufftown with their 1932 Hillman Minx military car. Picture: Robbie Simpson Islabrig Images

Rod Furr, Keith and Dufftown Association chairman, added: "We're obviously very pleased to see the 1940s Weekend return because it enables us to get back into our normal routine again.

"We're working hard now to get everything back to pre-covid levels so we'll have a lot of our old events returning this year to follow on from the 1940s Weekend.

"Hopefully if things stay as they are we will be able to run the Ghost Train at Halloween and the Santa specials at Christmas."


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