John Bate has formally received his MBE for services to Talyllyn Railway, awarded as part of the King’s Birthday Honours List earlier this year.

John, who has been an integral part of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society since it was formed in 1951, starting in that year as a volunteer on the decrepit railway helping to mend the track to an acceptable standard, received his MBE on Thursday, 26 October.

In 1957 after a major landslip at Dolgoch, his engineering expertise was put to the test as he led the charge to reinstate the fallen earthwork and reinforce it for years to come. In 1963 he became the railway’s first paid chief engineer.

In this role he oversaw multiple locomotive overhauls and rebuilds, construction of new passenger carriages and engineering plant including a self-propelled ballast tamping machine and self-propelled “flail mower” used to keep the railway’s hedges under control.

John would stay in this role for 30 years, retiring in 1994, but this would not be the end of his involvement with the Talyllyn Railway as he continues to be a volunteer today, at the age of 94, and is the voice of wisdom and inspiration for all volunteers.

Upon receiving his MBE from the Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd Edmund Bailey, John said a few very precise words in his own inimitable way.

“I’m very surprised to receive this award, I’ve done nothing more than my work. I’ve not made any attempt to achieve anything special, I was just doing my job - and I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

A railway spokesperson said: “We all think this was very richly deserved, for without John we may not all still be here running our railway for future generations to enjoy. The whole heritage railway movement thanks him.