Bluebell grants wish of lifetime

Daniel Bainbridge, ten, at the Bluebell railway
Daniel Bainbridge, ten, at the Bluebell railway

A ten-year-old terminally ill boy has been granted his wish of a lifetime – to become a train driver for the day.

Daniel Bainbridge from Abingdon, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis at birth, a disease that causes tumours to grow along nerves. In 2012 he had intense chemotherapy after being diagnosed with an optic pathway glioma.

His mum, Julia, contacted Starlight Children’s Foundation to help grant his wish – who organised a trip to the Bluebell Railway.

A Starlight spokeswoman said: “Daniel was very excited on the day of his wish. He was met by Roger Garman, communications director at Bluebell Railway, and taken to the front of the train to meet the driver, Ian, and the fireman, Michael. Michael invited Daniel up onto the train’s engine for a footplate ride and Ian showed Daniel how to use the train’s controls. In no time Daniel was shunting the train up and down the track full steam ahead.

“He also helped to refill the train with water before its next journey. When Daniel got off the train his clothes were very dirty but he had a big smile on his face.”

Roger presented Daniel with a postcard signed by the driver and fireman, giving Julia his own personal green guard’s flag to give to Daniel as a surprise.

Julia said: “Words cannot really describe how grateful we are to Starlight for making Daniel’s wish come true. We could never have imagined the generosity and kindness that we have experienced this week. Thank you seems very inadequate for everything you have done to make this such a magical time for Daniel.”

Holly Hague, from Starlight, said the charity was extremely grateful to Bluebell Railway and their staff who helped make Daniel’s wish come true.”

Roger Garman said: “Steam railways still captivate the imagination of children and adults alike. The team here at the Bluebell were delighted to be able to make Daniel’s wish to drive a train come true and give him a day to remember.”