Marking 25 years of Crest train

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Milestone celebrated . . . Looking forward to marking the 25th anniversary of the Crest train trust this weekend are (from left) trust treasurer Hilary (surname withheld), chairman Rodger Barrett, secretary Lesley Kendall, and volunteer driver John Kilby. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Riding around Dunedin Botanic Garden aboard the little blue Crest Community Express train has been a long-standing rite of passage for local youngsters.

This week, the Children’s Recreational Enterprise Support Trust (Crest) is celebrating 25 years of providing joy to families, older people and visitors through its Crest train and Shuttle Bug services.

To celebrate, the trust will host an open weekend at Dunedin Botanic Garden this Saturday (today) and Sunday (tomorrow), from 11am to 3pm.

And the 25th anniversary celebrations will continue, with the trust offering free rides to all gold card holders in March and April, as well as free rides for wheelchair users for all of 2018.

Trust chairman Rodger Barrett said the volunteer-operated train and shuttle had provided rides for up to 10,000 passengers last year.

“In the past couple of years we have been getting more and more cruise ship visitors – as they are now staying longer at the botanic garden and so have time to take a ride on the train or the shuttle,” Mr Barrett said.

The trust operated the Crest train and Shuttle Bug independently of the Dunedin Botanic Garden, but had become synonymous with the garden, he said.

The trust was also involved in off-site community events, such as Special Rigs for Special Kids and the Santa Parade.

Trust secretary Lesley Kendall said the train and shuttle were operated by a dozen volunteer drivers and associated support people, on weekends, public holidays and cruise ship days.

She said more volunteers were needed for all of the Crest train and Shuttle roles, including drivers, commentators and people with maintenance expertise.

Anyone interested in volunteering is welcome to come along to this weekend’s open days and have a chat with trust representatives.

Founded in 1992 by an autonomous group led by Arthur Linnell, the Crest train has given rides to many thousands of people over the years. In the process it has raised and distributed thousands of dollars in small grants to support children’s education and to local groups.