Hit music producer sprinkles some stardust for Thameslink’s Siggy, 82

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Thameslink’s oldest employee has been presented with a second Lifetime Achievement Award for his excellent customer service, this time by the Railway Benefit Fund and its president, ’80s music mogul Pete Waterman.

Passengers and colleagues, spurred on by a local social media campaign, voted in huge numbers for Elstree & Borehamwood’s 82-year-old station assistant Siggy Cragwell in the annual Heart Of Gold Awards, sponsored by Abellio Rail Replacement. Less than two years ago he received a similar accolade in the National Rail Awards.

Speaking at the station this week, flanked by the Town Mayor, residents, colleagues and other well-wishers, Pete Waterman said he was bowled over by Siggy’s 60 years of service to the railway.

He said: “Siggy is an inspiration to us all. Everyone here at the Railway Benefit Fund is so impressed by his amazing dedication. He is a truly deserving winner of our Heart of Gold Lifetime Achievement Award and it has been an honour to meet him.

“The RBF not only celebrates people like Siggy but supports them through tough times too, as we do all current, retired and former railway employees and their families. We’ve been doing this for over 160 years.”

Pete, who was part of the massively successful production team Stock Aitken Waterman and scored 22 UK number one hits for ’80s stars such as Kylie Minogue, Bananarama and Rick Astley, recalls commuting to Elstree to record Top Of The Pops.

Siggy has worked on the railway since the day after he landed in England from Barbados as part of the Windrush generation, almost 60 years ago. He gets up at 4am to do the 6-11am shift and then does gym and Tai Chi (now at home due to Covid), to keep him fit for cricket – which he still plays at an international level!

As reported here on his 80th birthday, he landed in Southampton on March 7, 1962 after an 11-day voyage and started work as a cleaner in Marylebone station the very next day. “I remember it was strange because it was very cold. They paid for everything, found us somewhere to live and we paid it back as we worked.”

Over the next 17 years at Marylebone he worked as a fireman, stoking steam engines, and a chargeman, supervising cleaners and the men who shunted the trains around the yard. He was then promoted to supervisor at Cricklewood Yard where he also shunted trains himself.

He was at Bedford when he was poached to be a stores manager at Luton then someone saw his abilities and stole him again, this time to be a platform supervisor at St Albans, in 1990.

In 2002 he came to Elstree & Borehamwood. “They needed someone with experience because the station was getting busier and busier,” he said. He’s been there ever since and is known by hundreds of commuters.

“I used to see them coming through the station when there were seven or eight; now they are big men or women, taller than me, with children of their own.

“What I like is mixing with people and conversing with them, getting to know them. I have hundreds of friends and I don’t even know their names. Even the youngest come looking for me.”

Siggy’s amazing dedication was honoured in 2020 with a Lifetime Achievement Award in the National Rail Awards, which are widely held up as railway industry’s answer to the Oscars, as reported here.

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director, said: “Siggy is such an inspirational person and a true public servant here at Thameslink. The fact that this latest award was the result of a public vote speaks volumes about how highly he is regarded by his customers and his colleagues. We really are honoured to have him as part of our railway family.”