Volunteers get stuck into their roles as ‘survivors’ in Exercise Georgiana

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Exercise Georgiana ‘survivors’ were all given a story to tell and many of them threw themselves into their roles at Claypole Village Hall, which served as the ‘survivor reception centre’, on Tuesday.

Everything was well under way in the village on Tuesday morning and a few ‘survivors’ of the East Coast line ‘train crash’ were entering the hall.

Once inside there was more activity as members of the police, Red Cross, Raynet and other groups were doing their ‘duty’ while dozens of volunteer ‘survivors’ were sat at tables and one or two ‘remonstrating’ with officials.

Each volunteer was given a role to play with a story behind each role.

Some volunteers were clearly into their method acting and when I approached one man, he remained in character and proceeded to tell me how upset he was that he had lost his eight-year-old son in the crash.

Eventually, I was able to persuade David Ackroyd, (real name) of Collingham, that I really was a reporter from the Grantham Journal and not just role playing. He then came out of character to tell me how much he was enjoying the experience.

I spoke to another man who was an amputee. Noticing that his lower right leg was missing, I assumed that David Pell, of Bourne, was playing the role of a seriously injured passenger.

“No, I just lost my prosthetic leg in the crash,” he explained. “I think we arrived too early for them to deal with us, but we are trying to put them all under pressure.”

I had seen Mr Pell fall over, deliberately, earlier on so that the centre staff could get stuck into their role play and help him out.

While the whole scenario seemed a little low key, many of the ‘survivors’ were clearly enjoying the experience and getting stuck into their roles.

 The exercise is named in memory of Georgiana Baguley, one of the victims of the Scotch Express rail accident of 1906 when the 8:45pm service from King’s Cross hurtled through Grantham Station, left the rails and smashed through the parapet above Harlaxton Road, claiming 14 lives. Georgiana Baguley, 33, was the only one who could not be identified at the time. She was buried in Grantham Cemetery.