Daisy Nimmo loved waving off passengers travelling on the Littlehampton Miniature Railway. But sadly, the 12-year-old passed away before she could ride the train herself.
Now her memory will live on through a new engine named after her.
Her grandmother Julie Thomas was among those present at the unveiling at Mewsbrook Park on Sunday, October 15.
The 76-year-old from Norfolk Road, Littlehampton, who is also a volunteer at the railway, said Daisy would ‘live on’ through the train: “She would be so happy up there, and she would be so excited to see the train.
“She was so brave. She lived life to the full and brought a lot of happiness to people. She was a very brave child and so well-loved, but it was time for her to go.”
Daisy was born with a rare genetic condition called Costello Syndrome which meant she needed a wheelchair, suffered from epilepsy and had learning difficulties.
When she came down from Wimbledon to visit Julie, she waved the green flag to send the trains off.
A wheelchair accessible carriage was in the pipeline, but Daisy passed away on January 31 before it could be purchased.
The plans suffered a setback when vandals stole tools from the railway in July.
But Daisy’s mother Stephanie, 49, started a campaign which helped raise enough money to get Daisy the engine completed and put the carriage plans back on track. She said: “It was really emotional for me unveiling the train named after my little girl. She would be delighted and very proud.”
Railway chairman Chris Shanks said the wheelchair carriage should be ready for next year. Daisy the engine joins the group’s other train, Albert. He said: “We are really pleased to have another engine and over the moon it is in memory of Daisy.”
The unveiling of Daisy the engine is just part of Littlehampton Miniature Railway’s plans to go from strength to strength.
Chris Shanks said security at the railway had never been better since new systems were installed after the break-in earlier this year.
School trips to the railway were proving popular, and when the wheelchair-friendly carriage is ready, it will open the railway up to lots of new passengers.
The 64-year-old said: “We want to be open to all walks of life. We are a very friendly railway and want everyone to feel welcome.
“We have had a lot of donations and support. We are a registered charity now. People are happier when they know you’re more official; a group of blokes playing trains doesn’t inspire you to donate money!”
Among the group’s supporters is Littlehampton mayor Billy Blanchard-Cooper, who unveiled Daisy the engine.
He was completely behind the wheelchair carriage: “It is something I am very passionate about because as far as I’m concerned, all areas should be accessible, especially for kids. It’s a little thing that means a lot.”
The group needs more volunteers to drive the trains and in other roles.
Julie Thomas has been with the group for two years and does admin work and greets the public. She said the volunteer work has kept her feeling young: “It keeps your brain going. If you sit down all day and watch TV you will go downhill.”
To join the group, visit littlehampton miniaturerailway.com.