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Backdown Means Victory For Railwayman And His Dog

Published on: 12 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 13 Dec, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Just over a month since “station master” Richard Bunce resigned because his employer, South Western Railway (SWR), said he could not take his dog to work, SWR has announced that both can return to Horsley railway station.

Richard Bunce and his dog George.

See Petition Launched To Bring Back Railwayman And His Dog

The German wire-haired pointer has been a fixture at the station for years and is popular with staff and customers alike. However, SWR said internal rules did not allow dogs into railway workplaces on safety grounds.

But after pressure from the public, SWR relented on Friday, December 10, and said in a statement: “Following a robust staff consultation and risk assessment, SWR decided that it was safe for George to return.”

Dog Bertie pictured in the petition to reinstate dog George and his human at Horsley railway station.

A petition to keep Richard and George at the station attracted  9,615 signatures of support. And Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “A little less box-ticking would brighten up everyone’s day.”

Comments on the petition were critical of SWR. “George was not doing any harm to anyone. Very mean spirited,” wrote one. Another wrote: “Richard and George clearly bring great value to the village and station. It’s pity that SWR are not community minded.

Richard Bunce said he had handed his notice in as there wasn’t an affordable or satisfactory dog care solution for George.

Now saying: “I’m so pleased that SWR have gone the extra mile to ensure that George and I can stay at Horsley. I’m looking forward to George delighting customers and colleagues alike for years to come.”

SWR managing director Claire Mann with Richard Bunce and dog George at Horsley railway station.

SWR’s managing director Claire Mann said: “Our stations are a vital part of an operational railway network, and it wouldn’t be safe or appropriate for them to be overrun with our furry friends.

“But it is important to strike a balance and provide some flexibility to individual cases like Richard and George’s.”

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test 3 Responses to Backdown Means Victory For Railwayman And His Dog

  1. John Perkins Reply

    December 12, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    Good. It shows why bureaucrats of any sort should not be obeyed.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    December 13, 2021 at 9:07 am

    Thanks to a wonderful petition signed by a huge number of locals and the about turn by SWR we have our best “Station Master” returned to his vital place.

  3. Catherine Young Reply

    December 13, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    It is fantastic that Richard and George are back at Horsley Station. Richard works really hard to look after the station and his customers, and it simply wouldn’t be the same without them both. It just goes to show how a bit of common sense, and a willingness to admit when you’ve got it wrong, can bring about a perfect end to a local story.

    Let’s hope that after the horrendous East Horsley road closure, some of those at Surrey County Council are reading and learning from this story.

    Catherine Young is the GGG borough councillor for Clandon & Horsley

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