An autistic teen who is calmed by train announcements has received personalised recordings from rail staff – to get him through lockdown.
Lewis Dart, 17, has been obsessed with trains from a young age and would travel up and down the country to record announcements.
He would then listen to them back home and his family say it was the only thing that would put him at ease.
But after he struggled with the travel restrictions during lockdown they reached out to staff at GWR for help.
Mum Nicky Osborne said she was hoping for some generic recordings about departures.
But she was stunned when two of Lewis’ favourite announcers responded with a personal greeting.
They were played to him over a zoom call and Nicky said he now listens to them on a constant loop.
She said: “We never expected it to go like it did. It was amazing to get a personalised announcement for him. It was just unreal.
“It drives the rest of us up the wall but he listens to them all the time.
“Train announcements are what regulate him and calm him down.
“They have been playing all day today on his phone and computer and through his speakers.”
Nicky, 53, said the original idea to get recordings was sparked as he struggled to understand why he was no longer allowed to travel on trains during the latest lockdown.
She added: “Lewis has been absolutely obsessed with trains from a young age.
“He got to the age when he was able to go off travelling on his own and would go off to Scotland and work out his own route.
“But unfortunately with Covid he has not been able to follow the one way rules. He does not understand it and it has caused a few problems.
“We managed to keep him in during the first lockdown but when it got to this one we had to see what we could put in place for him.
“He did travel last on 15 January and had to be stopped by British Transport Police. He has now promised the police he won’t try again until it is safe to do so. He now knows it was not just me being mean.
“It was through these conversations that we knew we had to put things in place.
“Lewis said he liked Janine and David at GWR so we asked for as many announcements as we could that might help him. He just likes to listen to them.
“GWR were really keen to help and they both made him a recording. There was a zoom meeting arranged so the could play it to him and we could film his reaction.”
The announcer, known as David, told Lewis: “Please mind the gap and take care when stepping down from the dinner table.
“We know Lewis just how much you have missed your days out on the train and how hard it can be to spend so much time at home.
“From all your friends at Great Western Railway, we all miss you and we all look forward to welcoming you back on board soon when things are safer for us all.”
The second announcer, known as Janine, told him: “This is a special announcement for Lewis Dart of Newton Abbot. Please ensure you have all your personal belongings with you, safe at home.
“We wanted to send you a personal message from our lockdown to yours – to say hello and, well, hang on in there, happier times are on their way.”
Nicky, a sensory impairment officer for the NHS, said the messages meant the world to her son.
She added: “He has a train simulator and railway that he would do his own announcements for.
“He also likes taking photos and videos and recording train announcements on the station.
“He used to travel just to get announcements from certain people and certain times. He would just record them and knows lots about all the announcers and their names.
“He would go to any station where they might be doing a certain announcement.
“After he heard the messages, Lewis just smiled. It is slowly sinking in for him and his initial reaction was just ‘wow – brilliant.’
“We were just after some generic announcements of anything they had by these two people. So to end up with what we had was amazing. We can’t thank them enough.”
Lewis added: “Anne and Roger make the announcements at the train station and Janine and David on board the trains.
“I just like to listen to them and it helps calm me down when I am feeling stressed. I have loads of them and listen to them all the time.
“But to get my own personal ones was a big surprise. I didn’t expect it at all.”
GWR Head of Communications Dan Panes said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve been working hard to keep people entertained, both on social media and on our special #GWREnterTrainment page online.
“We were only too pleased to try to help put a smile on Lewis’s face and would like to say a big thanks to David and Janine for their very special train announcement.”