Popular Basingstoke rail guard Dave Gunson, who was killed in a hit and run crash as he cycled to work, has had a train named in his honour.
It is believed to be the first time such a tribute has been made on the railways and was organised by friends and colleagues of the 65-year-old, who worked for South West Trains for more than 20 years.
Mr Gunson, a grandfather of nine, died in hospital on December 23, 2016 after being hit by a car while cycling to work in Basingstoke on the A338 near his home in Tidworth, Wiltshire, the previous evening.
Friend and colleague Mike Bunker, also a guard for South West Trains, said: “Everyone loved him so much, I just felt that something had to be done to recognise him.”
Asked if such an honour had ever been given in memory of a guard before, Mr Bunker said: “I don’t think it has. No and I’m a bit of a railway buff so it’s the first time I think.”
Mr Gunson’s family, including wife of 35 years Chrystine, friends and colleagues were all present at the unveiling of the South West Trains carriage bearing Mr Gunson’s name at Woking station last Wednesday.
Mr Gunson’s stepson Glen Simpson said: “It’s extremely humbling, it’s a massive honour and, to be honest, it typifies the feelings that his friends and colleagues had for him.
“It was mentioned at the funeral in January and I didn’t think anything of it but South West Trains and his colleagues have been fantastic.”
Mr Simpson added: “We were told on the day that in order to get the train on the track and back into service, cost in the region of £10,000 and that was paid for by his colleagues and friends.
“It’s fantastic – it’s so difficult to put into words, especially how my mum feels. We knew he had friends at work but the outpouring has been amazing.”
‘Gunner’ had already worked a shift on December 22, 2016 and volunteered to return for the evening to cover for a sick colleague.
The father-of-three never held a driving licence and was a keen cyclist who cycled 150 miles a week, cycling to Grateley and then getting the train to Basingstoke.
Glen reflected: “He was the best man I ever knew, he helped me whenever.
“He’s been taken far too early and was just an amazing bloke – a legend and is sorely missed.”
Andrew Fairbank, head of on train services for South West Trains, said: “Dave was a very well-respected member of the commercial guard team and it’s testament to his character that a train has been named after him.”
The nameplate will be kept on the train for a minimum of 10 years and a staffroom at Basingstoke Station has also been named in his honour.
A 23-year-old man from Tidworth, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving after Mr Gunson’s death.