It’s all change at the top of Severn Valley Railway Holdings as Mike Ball takes over the role of chairman from Nick Paul CBE, and general manager Helen Smith has been named managing director designate.
Helen’s move allows her to take complete responsibility for safety, finance and growth. As part of the Severn Valley Railway’s safety management system, a review and validation of this change will take place in the near future before the managing director position is confirmed.
Nick Paul has stepped down as chairman after more than a decade in the role. Mike Ball, meanwhile, brings expertise through years working at a senior level in the engineering and IT sectors. Many in the industry will already know him as a volunteer on the Severn Valley Railway for 35 years, spending 10 as the deputy chairman. Challenges during these times included dealing with repairs to the Falling Sands Viaduct and County Boundary Slip, and more recently handling the effects of the pandemic. Mike has also been key in developing the Severn Valley Railway’s working relationships with mainline train operating companies, boosting the Railway’s income through contract work.
Mike paid tribute to his predecessor: “Nick brought astute senior level business management experience and significant financial expertise to the railway.
“During his tenure, he focused the board on the management of its finances, and his skills were invaluable as he led the company through the financial challenges emanating from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, as a trustee, he has played a major role in the transformation of the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust into a highly successful fundraising organisation.
“The board would like to thank Nick for his leadership, hard work and the outstanding contribution he has made to the SVR’s progress over the past 10 years.”