Published: 08:00, 23 October 2017
The future of a model railway exhibition looks uncertain after its founder bowed out after 21 years.
Reverend Richard Arding started the Wilmington Charity Model Railway Exhibition in 1997 – a year after taking the reins at St Michael and All Angels Church – as a way of fundraising for much-needed repairs.
It was hoped the event would draw a few hundred people and run for a couple of years but two decades later it has become a highlight of the church calendar and at the weekend welcomed 850 visitors and raised more than £11,000. In total it has raised more than £150,000 in its lifetime.
But former banker Mr Arding, a train enthusiast, is now stepping down and says there is no one to take on the running of the exhibition.
The 65-year-old said: “It was a great event yet again and the amount raised is the best to date. I never saw it becoming so popular when I started it.
“Unfortunately patron Jools Holland couldn’t make it as he was playing in Dublin but he invited us to his castle last week, gave us a guided tour, showed us his railway and gave us some items to sell at the event. I had tea in his kitchen and he was a really lovely man.
“Unfortunately there’s no one to take over at the moment and it won’t happen again unless anything changes. I suppose it depends on whether the next vicar is a train enthusiast.”
The money raised will be split between charities Railway Children – which helps homeless children – Demelza Hospice Care for Children and Dartford-based Cherished Memories as well as funding a youth worker for the area.
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