Littlehampton children’s handwritten letter to Southern boss prompts invite to meet him in person

Children who wrote to Govia Thameslink Railway’s boss about recycling were invited to meet him at Littlehampton railway station, so he could answer their questions in person.

Year-six pupils at River Beach Primary School sent handwritten letters to chief executive Patrick Verwer to express their concerns about the impact of plastics on the environment and wildlife.

Impressed by their keen interest in recycling, Mr Verwer invited 30 of the eco-conscious pupils to meet him at their local station, so he could show them about how GTR manages plastics and other waste.

Mr Verwer said: “It’s really important that we learn about this in our schools, so we can start to make a real difference early on. You wrote beautiful letters and I thought rather than write to you, we would invite you here to the station.”

GTR chief executive Patrick Verwer talking to pupils from River Beach Primary School at Littlehampton Ralway Station

He highlighted the environmental benefits of travelling by train and introduced the children to representatives from Biffa, which manages waste across Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern routes.

The children were delighted to be able to sit inside one of Biffa’s 26-tonne waste lorries.

Teacher Amy Goodwin said: “It’s amazing to have this day out that’s linked with their learning. They have been really excited to be coming to the station. The activities have been really hands-on for them.”

Railway staff talked to the children about how to avoid single-use plastic and showed them how to make barbecue bricks out of old newspapers.

Making barbecue bricks out of old newspapers

Lucinda Challis, assistant head, said: “They have been very excited to come to the station. They were quite excited to get a response from Patrick, and the staff were excited.

“It’s lovely to work with the local community and the station is on our doorstep. To have the opportunity to come along, make paper bricks and sit in the Biffa truck is a real experience for them. They will remember the things that they have done here.”

The children who wrote the letters said the learned a lot from the visit and they enjoyed the experience.

As a reward, the children were all given reusable GTR water bottles.