HST model competition raises hundreds for charity

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

A silent auction of a one-of-a-kind model of the last High-Speed Train to run on the Midland Main Line has raised more than six hundred pounds for The National Autistic Charity.

To celebrate the retirement of East Midlands Railway’s (EMR) iconic HST fleet from the Midland Main Line earlier this year, EMR teamed up with Mike Gray at Graystone Group Ltd to offer train fans the chance to bid on a unique Brio replica model of the last HST that ran from London St Pancras international.

The model, which was handmade by Mike and his son, and came complete with a final journey headboard and presentation box, is fully compatible with Brio track – making it a unique collector’s item.

A huge congratulations to Debbie Halford from Long Eaton, Nottingham, who won the auction with a final bid of £650.

Debbie sought the model as a surprise gift for her friend, a lifelong HST fan and railway man, who will soon be celebrating a milestone birthday.

Mike Gray said creating the project was a way to help his autistic son adjust to not being able to see trains in real life during the pandemic.

He said: “We used to watch trains from the bridge on the way to nursery each morning but the pandemic hit and we couldn’t go out. At that point we didn’t know my son was autistic, so when he became very distressed by not being able to go and see the trains, I started making models of the ones he used to see on the bridge to run on his Brio track.

“Making the models became a fun way to get through the pandemic and helped both of us cope, I learnt new skills and we enjoyed playing together.

“I decided to do the HST project because it was the most interesting subject to build for me. I have always been a huge rail enthusiast and big HST fan since I was four years old.

“I wanted my son to experience the thrill of the HST’s too so we watched a lot of YouTube to get the models right, as well as see the real trains and hear the sound. It took eight months of development to get the 3D CAD model right, then another two months for graphics. It took more than 1000 hours of work in total.

“Now the pandemic is receding we can travel more and have been able to get out to see the real railway. Lets just say my son is totally hooked.”

Neil Bamford, Fleet Director at East Midlands Railway, said: “We are delighted to hear the HST Brio model will be treasured by a true rail enthusiast, and would like to thank Debbie for her extremely generous donation, as well as everyone else who placed a bid.

“Also, a big thank you to Mike and his son, who kindly spent so many hours to make this wonderful model. You really did it justice."