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‘The Cumbrian Spirit’ is finally home – four years after Storm Desmond devastated the county

Andrew Hunter of Grasmere Gingerbread (far right) at the unveiling of ‘The Cumbrian Spirit’

A train name plate that gave a morale boost to flood-hit Cumbria – and has now raised £2,000 for a teenage cancer charity – is to go on permanent display at Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.

After Storm Desmond devastated Cumbria on 5 December 2015, Virgin Trains named a West Coast Pendolino (390010) ‘The Cumbrian Spirit’ to announce that the county was ‘open for business’.

When First Trenitalia was awarded the West Coast Main Line franchise earlier this year, Virgin Trains auctioned off its original metal name plates to raise money for the (Stephen Sutton) Teenage Cancer Trust.

Despite an incurable diagnosis, Stephen remained positive up until his death in May 2014 and his courageous story has since raised millions of pounds for young people facing cancer.

Inspired by Stephen’s story, ‘The Cumbrian Spirit’ was bought for £2,000 by Andrew Hunter, co-owner of Grasmere Gingerbread®.

“I remember being very moved by Stephen’s incredible bravery and commitment to help others,” said Andrew.

“So I was proud to bid for ‘The Cumbrian Spirit’ name plate as part of our ongoing charitable commitment.

“I also wanted to keep this special sign in the county. Storm Desmond affected our shop in Grasmere and many other people across the region. It also closed the A591 road through the Lake District for six months.

“I was honoured to unveil ‘The Cumbrian Spirit’ at Carlisle Railway Station in March 2016 as a symbol of the county’s fightback.

Grasmere Gingerbread® has now donated ‘The Cumbrian Spirit’ to Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum which has a section dedicated to the city’s railway heritage.

Andrew Mackay, Director of Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery said, “Seven of the founding railway companies were based at the Citadel Station here in Carlisle, as the main railway hub. It’s an honour to display the plate this December, marking 4 years since Storm Desmond devastated Cumbria. Our collections represent the history of Carlisle and Cumbria over thousands of years – this plate will help tell the story of this headline making event and celebrate the resilience of our county for generations to come.”

“Carlisle has a great railway heritage – and has also been hit by severe episodes of flooding – so it is only fitting that ‘The Cumbrian Spirit’ stays in the city as a permanent beacon of hope over adversity,” added Andrew Hunter.

Jane Sutton, the mother of Stephen, said: “I think it’s a fabulous gesture to display ‘The Cumbrian Spirit’ name plate in such a prestigious and fitting location to enable more people visiting Carlisle to see part of Britain’s railway heritage.”

The ‘Cumbrian Spirit’ name plate will be unveiled at Tullie House Museum at 3pm on Tuesday 3 December to coincide with the fourth anniversary of Storm Desmond.

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