A NEW chairman is set to take over the West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust (WSRHT).

Mike Thompson will become chairman at the next Annual General Meeting (AGM), but will work alongside Steve Williams, in his current role as acting chairman.

Mr Williams will remain on the board as vice chairman and company secretary.

"I have worked with Mike in various capacities over the last two years," he said.

"I have great regard for his abilities and his overall knowledge of the railway, both as an active volunteer on the trains and in undertaking work in support of the railway particularly in relation to commercial opportunities.

"He is a natural fit for the trust and I am sure he will be a great ambassador for the charity.

"It has been a privilege to lead the trust on a temporary basis and I pay tribute to my colleagues for all the support they have given me over the last eight months."

Mr Thompson has been a volunteer at West Somerset Railway (WSR) for more than four years and is a qualified guard, TTI and booking clerk at the WSR.

He has more than 30 years experience in aviation leadership roles.

"It is an honour to take on the role of chairman and I am very excited about working with our members and the excellent team of trustees as we embark on several new restoration, educational and community projects," he said.

"I also wish to thank my two predecessors for their significant contributions to the trust.

"Chris Austin has carried the charity forward with great professionalism over the last 10 years and has overseen significant advances in the standard of our museums, carriage restoration projects and improving the finances of the organisation.

"Also, huge thanks must go to Steve Williams who stepped in as acting chair last year during a very difficult period for the trust and brought some much-needed stability."