The RailStaff Awards 2024

Nominations for Health & Wellbeing Award

Lynn Crump

Said the following about Heather Waugh:

“Heather Waugh joined Freightliner as an Intermodal freight train driver based at Mossend, in spring 2019, following a 12-year train driver career with ScotRail.

Since joining Freightliner, Heather has been a true advocate for encouraging more women into a career in rail and, in particular, rail freight and has single-handedly gone about busting the myths surrounding being a freight driver. Heather has achieved this feat in a variety of ways including participating in video campaigns, media interviews/articles, radio/TV appearances and via social media. Wherever there is an opportunity to promote rail freight opportunities, Heather has been there leading the charge.

Since witnessing a suicide during her time with ScotRail, Heather has also been a staunch advocate for mental health awareness and is a volunteer with Samaritans.

As the only female freight train driver in Scotland, Heather has become famous within the rail industry and on a wider scale, both for her love of driving trains and for her dedicated support for mental health awareness.

As a big advocate for mental health awareness, Heather was approached by Samaritans to be a case study for them. This led to interest in Heather’s story by BBC online who recently featured her in their Stories section which has received lots of positive feedback on social media. BBC Online Stories article

“I read the " 'Talk to m': A train driver asking men to open up" story on the BBC website today - so impressed with the content and with Heather for enabling the story to run etc. Please pass on that (as well as from me) several railway staff online forums are commenting on how impressed they are with the story and with Heather for what she's said. Great to see such a good story in the midst of what has been a difficult time for the industry.”

Tony Miles

Modern Railways & Rail Business UK

This also led to an interview with BBC Radio Scotland and a TV appearance on the BBC Nine Show, not only raising the awareness of mental health but also of rail freight.

In the BBC piece, Heather talks about how she encourages her male colleagues to open up to her about their worries or concerns which she feels they are able to do more easily with a female colleague.

“I’ve worked really closely with Heather over the past few months as she’s been so open and passionate about sharing her personal story to support Samaritans and help raise awareness of suicide prevention on the railways and mental health and wellbeing. Following Heather’s personal experience of a rail fatality earlier in her career and working in a heavily male dominated industry, Heather has been inspired to support men’s mental health and has gone above and beyond to support Samaritans work to really make a difference and encourage her employees to talk and open up about their mental health.

It’s been an absolute joy and honour to work with someone as passionate and dedicated as Heather. She gave up a lot of her time to speak to BBC News and national Scottish broadcast press to raise awareness of Samaritans training and support available for those who need someone to talk to. Heather’s heartfelt words and story received phenomenal feedback and saw a number of rail industry staff enquire into receiving the training after reading the article on BBC News.

We want to say a huge thank you to Heather for all she has done and continues to do to save lives.”

Amy Shacklady, Samaritans Media Manager

More recently, Heather has featured in a Samaritan’s video promoting their suicide prevention training courses to encourage others in the sector to sign up, where she gives a personal account of how she has used the training in practice. The video was shared with the rail sector for internal communications and is featured on the Samaritans section of the RSSB website.

Despite having no professional experience of working with the media, Heather has wholeheartedly participated in every media request she has received, including coming into work to film when she has been on annual leave, and is thoroughly committed to raising the profile of rail freight, diversity and inclusion and mental health.

“Heather is one of the best ambassadors any company could ask for and I am so proud to have her on our team at Freightliner where she works tirelessly to promote both the industry and mental health awareness. Her drive and her passion both in the promotion of women in the rail industry, as well as her genuine concern for people and her commitment to supporting the vital work of Samaritans on mental health awareness issues, must be recognised and applauded. Heather wholeheartedly gets involved in any campaign to support either of her passions for supporting other women and mental health but the extraordinary thing about Heather is that she goes out of her way to proactively also do so in her own time. Inspirational though she is to the team and the industry, Heather is exceedingly humble and modest, always looking to shine the light and give credit elsewhere.”

Glynis Appelbe, HR Director, G&W UK/Europe Region companies.