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Cumbrian train accident

To provide a formal opportunity for children to respond to their concerns about this recent accident.

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To provide a formal opportunity for children to respond to their concerns about this recent accident.

Preparation and materials

Note: This assembly has been written and posted immediately following the events; please check a reputable news source such as for the latest information.

If visiting the school please check with the head teacher in advance as sensitivity will be required in case anyone known to the children was involved in the incident.


  1. Recap the latest news details of the incident giving as much factual information as appropriate for the age group and avoiding too much detail. At the time of writing relevant facts could include:
    • A train travelling from London to Glasgow, came off the rails near Kendal (explain 'derailed' if necessary) at a quarter past eight in the evening on Friday 23rd February
    • The train was travelling at about 95mph at the time
    • Emergency crews faced difficult conditions, with pouring rain, waterlogged ground and narrow country lanes around the crash site
    • One person was killed in the accident and 22 were taken to hospital while dozens more were described as "walking wounded"
    • It is not yet known what caused the accident but it is thought possible that it may have been caused by a points failure
  2. Point out that train accidents are very rare and that trains are one of the safest forms of transport.
  3. Stress the positive aspects of the event including the work of the emergency services who responded quickly and efficiently despite difficult conditions. You might also mention:
    • Ian Garnett, watch manager with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said that the train passengers had been very calm and that a medical student travelling on the train had helped to treat injured people.
    • Farmers helped the emergency vehicles by using their tractors to tow them through muddy fields.
    • Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson, whose company ran the train, went straight to the scene of the accident after returning from a holiday.
    • The driver of the train, Ian Black from Scotland, was among those seriously injured. Richard Branson described Mr. Black as "definitely a hero".
    • More than 500 people were quickly involved in the rescue and investigation.
    • Grayrigg, the nearest village to the accident is home to only a few hundred people, but police said that as soon as locals heard of the accident they offered help, inviting the walking wounded into their homes for shelter and a hot drink.
    • A member of the emergency services said, "It was a filthy-night weather-wise, and rescuers did a magnificent job because finding the remote location was a problem as there was no light. This is a small community - there are only about 300 residents, but the farmers opened their doors - a lot of people were taken to Brackenhall Farm for hot drinks and something to eat and the place is completely trampled with mud. We had three helicopters at the site as well as fire and ambulance crews from as far away as Doncaster."
  4. Make the point that when bad things happen, they often bring out the best in people as they forget their own worries and focus on trying to help people in trouble.

Time for reflection


Let's think for a moment of all the people caught up in this accident.

The family of the 84 year old woman who died.

The people who are seriously injured and everyone who was hurt in the accident.

Let us also think of all the people who came to help:

the police and ambulance staff,

the helicopter pilots,

the first aid workers,

the hospital doctors and nurses,

the local farmers,

the local people who opened their houses.

When bad things happen it's good to know that people can work together to help.


Dear God,
We think of everyone involved in the recent train accident.
We think of the injured and the dead and their families.
We thank you for everyone who worked so hard to help and we thank you that people can pull together when times are difficult.

Publication date: January 2007   (Vol.9 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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