Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice in West Sussex has received a cheque for more than £12,500 from train company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

The money was raised at a special charity tour at the end of April organised with the help of the Branch Line Society to mark the retirement of the Southern fleet of Class 313 trains.

The farewell tour travelled across the region including stations on the Sussex Coast Line and Sussex Downs Line such as  Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Brighton, Lewes and Newhaven. Ticket sales, a raffle and an on-board auction raised a total of £25,335.76 which GTR is dividing between Chestnut Tree House and Railway Children, a charity for at-risk youngsters.

The 47-year-old Class 313s were the country’s oldest mainline electric trains. Southern has replaced them with modern, air-conditioned Electrostar trains, which are said to be three times more reliable, to transform passenger travel along the coast between Portsmouth, Brighton and Lewes.

Chris Fowler, Network Operations Director for GTR and Network Rail, presented the cheque to Ella Pilkington of Chestnut Tree House at Lovers Walk Depot in Brighton.

Chris said: “In the five decades the 313s have been operating, they’ve formed special memories for train crew, passengers, and customers. It’s great that in honouring their service, rail enthusiasts have raised such a magnificent sum for children’s charities.

“Over the past six years GTR has arranged other farewell tours to mark the withdrawal of our older fleets and with this latest tour now complete, we have raised £75,000 for charity. Arranging these tours takes a lot of work and I want to say a huge thanks to Antony Yandell, our Duty Operations Manager, who led the organising team, and everyone who has played a part.”

Ella Pilkington at Chestnut Tree House said: “There are hundreds of children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions in our local community who require specialist care, and even more parents and family members who need help and support.

“It is thanks to the kindness and generosity of individuals and companies like Southern and its parent company GTR that Chestnut Tree House can be there for each family on their journey – now and in the future. This donation of £12,500 is enough to pay for a full day of all our care services, both at the hospice and out in the community, so really will make a huge difference. On behalf of everyone at Chestnut Tree House, I’d like to say a huge thank you for your support.”

:: Photo caption (L to R): GTR’s Network Operations Director Chris Fowler and GTR’s Duty Operations Manager Antony Yandell present the £12,662 cheque to Ella Pilkington of Chestnut Tree House at Lovers Walk Depot in Brighton​

Two men and one woman wearing high visibility tabards holding large board with mock-up of cheque for £12,662.88 for Chestnut Tree House with train to left with headboard with note Farewell 313s GN: 1976-2023 Southern