While the nation has been busy celebrating the Queen’s platinum jubilee, a group of Talyllyn Railway volunteers has been hard at work celebrating their own special anniversary.

Since the first Talyllyn Tracksiders working party in May 1997, more than 4,200 individual shifts have been worked by young people under the age of 14 years.

Tracksiders allows family groups to work together on the famous mid Wales line, which was the inspiration for children’s author Rev Wilbert Awdry’s Thomas the Tank Engine character.

The 25th anniversary working party tackled line-side vegetation and footpath management, fence painting and prepared the incline at Nant Gwernol for an interpretive display. Tracksiders also spent a day helping the neighbouring Corris Railway.

Social activities included a picnic, beach night and putting competition, culminating in a celebratory barbeque. A special train for the barbeque took water at the recently restored Tŷ Dwr water column before the gang recreated an iconic picture that appeared as the frontispiece in L T C Rolt’s book Railway Adventure.

Ian Evans, Tracksiders project leader, said: “It has been a delight, for 25 years, to see our youngest volunteers flourish, learning new skills and building long-term friendships.

“Many have progressed to operating duties on Talyllyn Railway and it was great that a Tracksider alumnus was able to drive our BBQ special - one of three ex-Tracksiders now qualified to drive steam locos on the railway.

“We thank the railway, its staff and fellow volunteers for their support and for the opportunities they provide.”

Talyllyn Railway’s general manager, Stuart Williams, said: “The Tracksiders group has been the conduit to young people joining the railway for 25 years and the success is demonstrated by the number of people who began their volunteering careers in this scheme.

“We have recently expanded our young persons’ volunteer schemes and have developed a training programme for the 14 and 15-year-olds, which provides a springboard for young people to become full-fledged volunteers when they reach the age of 16.”