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Almost 1000 guests of all ages visited the tiny town of Kingston last weekend (March 31 and April 1) to ride New Zealand's famous vintage steam train and support the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand.
The inaugural Kingston Flyer Weekend raised $5500 for the foundation through money raised from ticket sales and other initiatives.
A $5 donation from each train ticket sold over the weekend went to the foundation, along with money raised through a sausage sizzle, bouncy castle, raffles and other generous donations.
The Kingston Flyer Managing Director David Bryce said they were smiled upon by amazing weather and it was a fantastic weekend for all involved.
“Visitors were predominantly from Southland and Otago but I was chatting to people from all around New Zealand and some overseas visitors,” he said.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to raise such a substantial amount of money for the Stroke Foundation in this region.”
Stroke Foundation of New Zealand regional manager Neil McIntosh said it was an “absolutely amazing” result.
“These funds will be used in the region in which they’ve been raised and will go towards the continuance of free field officer services in Southland and Otago.”
The Kingston Flyer crew is now looking forward to a busy Easter and New Zealand school holiday period before winding down for the season.
From May 1 the Kingston Flyer will be available for private bookings and group charters for events before re-opening for the summer 2012/2013 season on October 1.
About The Kingston Flyer
The Kingston Flyer is New Zealand's famous vintage steam train set in the spectacular mountain scenery of the Queenstown Lakes District. When gold was discovered in the Wakatipu district in 1862 the need to connect the district by steamships and steam trains became apparent. The railway line at last reached Kingston on July 10, 1878 and a public holiday was declared by Queenstown Borough and Lake County Councils.
The express passenger steam train known as "The Flyer" serviced Kingston-Gore on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Kingston-Invercargill on Tuesdays and Thursdays from the 1890's. During peak holiday periods she also carried passengers from Dunedin to Kingston to meet up with Lake Wakatipu steamboats connecting with the popular holiday destination of Queenstown.
The service was replaced by buses and passenger numbers declined through the 1950's. The final Kingston Flyer operated during the Easter holiday of 1957. Trains continued to run on the Waimea Plains Railway until 31 March 1971.
The New Zealand Government came up with a plan to save the historic steam train and funded its restoration in 1971. The atmosphere of the 1920's was retained and remains today featuring polished brass and steel work, white tyres, red fluted side rods, and glossy black paintwork.
The Kingston Flyer heritage service between Kingston and Lumsden continued until 1979. Today the service covers a 14km stretch of track between Kingston and Fairlight. The rails are the originals laid in 1878 but many of the 19,360 sleepers have been replaced.
The driving force and face of The Kingston Flyer was Russell Glendinning who is credited with saving and restoring the Flyer back in the 1970's. This was acknowledged when he received an MBE in the 1975 New Years Honours List. Russell’s career began at age 14 in Dunedin in 1953.
His apprenticeship took 7 years. In 1964 he became a First Class Driver and in 1969 a Special Class Driver. Russell's passion and energy continues to this day, he still occasionally drives the train, shines the brass and can be seen regularly out maintaining the track.
In 2009 the company that previously owned the Kingston Flyer went into receivership with the Flyer’s future uncertain until it was bought by David Bryce in 2011.
About the stroke foundation of NZ
The Stroke Foundation is the only organisation in New Zealand dedicated to reducing the incidence of stroke, improving treatment outcomes, and supporting those affected by stroke. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that supports more than 40 field officers and 70 stroke clubs throughout New Zealand.
The Stroke Foundation mission is to:
• save lives
• improve outcomes
• enhance life after stroke
The vast majority of funding comes from donations and grants, while the majority of the remainder comes from government contracts.