Below is a tribute from James Burford, friend and fellow volunteer on the Spa Valley Railway

Don Foreman

Local authority executive, author, scout leader, freemason, amateur dramatist, churchwarden, Secretary General of the International Monarchist League and top- drawer Spa Valley Railwayman.

Don was active on the lineside until a month before his death. Even during that last month he would watch the Groombridge webcam through which he would follow the work of his colleagues, such was his commitment to ensuring things were done properly. We would wave and occasionally get an instant mobile call.

Don arrived on the scene in 1996, immediately throwing in his lot as a life member. He became involved in the restoration and operation of our bar car Kate. He soon saw that the tea was served in china cups and the stewards wore proper uniforms, but it wasn't good enough to expect people to pay for a train ride through an impenetrable jungle on the lineside.

With a team called the "Tree Fellers" Don managed to return the whole lineside back to the way it looked up to the 1960s. He could always light bonfires when many of us could not. Others joined in and together they stuck it out until years later the job was done.

Of course, "done" isn't strictly le bon mot, because stuff keeps growing behind you, so they started going round again. His knowledge and love of flora and fauna meant our embankments became diverse habitats where persecuted species can thrive - owls, reptiles, small vertebrates and long-dormant wildflowers burst forth from their slumber to delight those with eyes to appreciate them.

He cleared blocked culverts, made wooden replacements for our missing gradient and mileposts and planted innumerable daffodils on unloved bits of lineside. For many springs to come they will nod in the breeze to our passengers.

The wearing of high visibility clothing in public areas and in loco cabs was another brand of kryptonite to a man who believed in Doing Things Properly, and many were the Snot-O-Grams fired off from The Alders to the wretched transgressors.

It may appear that this piece is more about what drove "The Monarchist" (his inevitable nickname among the Groombridge Extra Gang) to distraction than his rich and well-lived life outside of the railway. Simply though, he loved the Railway deeply, and he couldn't bear to see it sold short. He understood our responsibilities to those who wish to help us - physically, financially or morally - and unwaveringly stood up for them.

He was nearly always right, and it wasn't always what people wanted to hear; a true friend is a truthful one. He was kind and generous, with a tinder-dry wit and a vocabulary as elegant as it was hilarious.

Steam train Douglas carrying a wreath in memory of Don
Steam train Douglas carrying a wreath in memory of Don

His wardrobe was as idiosyncratic as the man himself. Quite apart from the vision in corduroy he presented when either in Station Master's Uniform announcing "Groombridge!" in his best theatrical boom or in gardening clothes, we remember the tall chap in a neckerchief and herringbone stalker with that indestructible pheasant tail feather spliced into the brim.

He waved to passing trains in the manner of the last king.

We all offer our sincere sympathies to his godsons Robert and Simon of whom Don often spoke while eating his sarnies on an embankment.. As well as a delightful lineside and a generally better railway, Don leaves us a legacy of high standards. We should honour his memory by meeting them.