A quadriplegic cat has been honoured as a station mascot due to his undying love of TRAINS.
The feline – Sir Toby Toblerone, fondly known as Toby – may have trouble getting around but he loves nothing more than sitting on the platform watching carriages come and go.
He starts every morning with an episode of his favourite show ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’, before heading to the tracks at Lancaster Train Station where he dons his name badge as a fully-fledged member of staff.
Owner Julie Wilding, 49, said: “Toby is totally enthralled by trains. As soon as he hears a ‘toot-toot’ or a ‘woo-woo’, he looks round in excitement.
“His little ears prick up and his eyes widen. If a train pulls into the station, he can’t take his eyes off it.”
“You can’t quite believe it until you meet him in person but and I don’t know where his passion comes from but trains are what makes Toby happy.”
Julie and her husband, teaching assistant Stephen, 55, first took Toby in as a foster cat at the beginning of last year, before formally adopting him in December.
He was just six months old when he was found in a garden, unable to move, and X-rays and tests failed to reveal the reason.
It was thought he may have been born with a neurological condition and Julie and Stephen took him in while vets decided if he could manage with his disability.
But within months of living with the couple in Lancaster, Lancs., he discovered the station down the road and has never looked back.
Julie, a charity volunteer, said: “He can’t get around by himself but we like to let him get some fresh air and have a sniff so we take him out for little walks.
“At first we just took him to the end of the cul-de-sac and we noticed he was interested in the cars that went past.
“As we took him a little further, we got to the station and it just so happened that a train went past.
“As soon as he saw it he just seemed fascinated. Eventually we ended up taking him on to the platform so he could see the trains close up.”
Toby, now two, visits the station three times a week, and has recently been appointed their very own mascot.
He has even been given his own Virgin Trains name badge, and has become a favourite among the other staff.
Keith Sweeney, customer service assistant at Lancaster Train Station, said: “Most of us here are train enthusiasts but Toby is the biggest enthusiast of us all.
“He loves to sit and watch the trains and he’s such a joy to have around the station.”
“He brings staff and customers together and everyone adores him.
“I think Toby is a credit to Julie and Stephen and a real example for disabled animals and how they have to a right to be happy and enjoy activities even if they’re unable to get around of their own accord.”
To welcome Toby to the station, Virgin Trains offered him and his owners a free trip on a Virgin Pendolino – his favourite train.
Julie said: “We feel as if Toby is championing for disabled animals and to show they can still have a life.
“We want him to have a normal life for a cat as possible and trains is something he really enjoys. We just want him to be happy, and we seem to have found his thing.
“If trains are what he enjoys then who are we to stop him.”