St Pancras Songs of Praise


St Pancras

Aled Jones meets staff and passengers at London's bustling railway interchange and introduces perfect hymns to accompany any journey.


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Transcript


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Well, it's that time of year again.

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The days are longer. The sun is shining.

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It's time to get away for a break. But where to go?

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Decisions, decisions.

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This week, I've come to a bustling hub

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of international and national travel.

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So, all aboard.

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To meet the people who help put the railway staff

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and passengers back on track.

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To talk to people on the move.

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And to enjoy hymns from around Great Britain.

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I've come to St Pancras train station

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in the heart of London.

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It's been voted one of the capital's favourite landmarks.

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With its Victorian architecture, you can definitely see why.

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Over 40 million passengers use this station annually

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en route to destinations both near and far.

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It's also, of course, a gateway to Europe.

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And our first hymn certainly fits the bill.

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Everyone's rushing around, but if you stop to talk to people,

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you'd be amazed at where they've come from

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and where they're going to.

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-You're from...

-Brisbane, Queensland.

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How do you guys know each other, then?

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Schoolmates. And we haven't seen each other for 57 years.

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Last time I was here I had hair.

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LAUGHTER

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-Do you use this railway station a lot?

-Yes, I do.

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I always have to come here

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to get some tarts for my husband on the way home.

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Oh, isn't that lovely? Wish my wife did that for me.

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What are you doing here today?

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-I've just been to wave goodbye to my uncle, Rod.

-Where's he going?

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To Paris, and then after that, he's going to Spain.

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And he didn't take you with him?

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So, tell me why you're in the station today?

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I actually live here.

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I actually live just overlooking the Eurostar terminal in St Pancras.

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-Absolutely fab.

-You live in the station?

-I do.

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It's fantastic.

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From my bedroom window, I can look out onto St Pancras arch

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and see that right from where I'm standing. It's brilliant.

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Have you got a favourite bit?

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The big statue of them. The soldier kissing his girl goodbye.

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-I think that's really good.

-Yes, it is.

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I like the plinth that goes round the bottom,

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because if you go around it, it's got all sorts of things,

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like miners and nurses, railwaymen.

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All sorts of things.

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The station is obviously named after a saint,

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and I'll tell you more about him in just a moment.

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# Gospel train is coming

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# Hear the whistle blow

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# If you think you're ready, it's almost time to go

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# Get on board, little children

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# Get on board, little children

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# Get on board, little children

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# There's room for you, and room for me

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# And room for many more

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# All aboard

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# Standing at the station

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-# Ticket in my hand

-All aboard

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# See the train is coming It's bound for Glory Land

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-# Get on board, little children

-Alleluia

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-# Get on board, little children

-Alleluia

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-# Get on board, little children

-Alleluia

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# There's room for you and room for me

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# And room for many more

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# This train is bound for glory, this train

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# This train is bound for glory, this train

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# This train is bound for glory

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# Come gather around and listen to the story

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# This train is bound for glory, this train

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# Clickety-clack, clickety-clack Hear that train come down the track

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# Clickety-clack, clickety-clack

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# If you're ready, we'll take you back

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# Clickety-clack, clickety-clack Hear that train come down the track

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# Clickety-clack, clickety-clack

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# If you're ready, we'll take you back

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# This train is bound for glory, this train

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# Hear that train come down the track

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# This train is bound for glory, this train

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# If you're ready, we'll take you back

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# This train is bound for glory

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# Come gather round and listen to the story

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# This train is bound for glory, this train

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# Get on board, little children

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# Get on board, little children

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# Get on board, little children

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# There's room for many more

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-# Get on board, little children

-Alleluia

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-# Get on board, little children

-Alleluia

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-# Get on board, little children

-Alleluia

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# There's room for you, and room for me

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# And room for many mo-o-ore

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# Yeah! #

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"What the Londoner sees in his mind's eye

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"is that cluster of towers and pinnacles

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"seen from Pentonville Hill.

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"And outlined against a foggy sunset.

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"And the great arc of Barlow's train shed,

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"gaping to devour incoming engines,

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"and the sudden burst

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"of exuberant Gothic of the hotel, seen from gloomy Judd Street."

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I'm sure you'd agree that the inside

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of this celebrated Victorian building is pretty incredible.

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But, without this man, the building would have been demolished.

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Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman fought to save this famous landmark.

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Good on him.

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His statue stands here, marvelling at the wonderful St Pancras arch.

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Well, his determination is mirrored in our next hymn.

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I've discovered that St Pancras was a Christian,

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martyred in the fourth century, aged just 14.

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St Pancras Old Church, which is close to the station,

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was named after him.

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It's thought to be one of the oldest churches in the UK.

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We're here at St Pancras. The list of destinations is endless.

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Modern technology, of course,

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means we can cover a very large distance in a small space of time.

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From here, you can be in Europe in just a few hours.

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Amidst the hustle and bustle at the station,

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there is a team of chaplains at work.

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'The thing that really keeps me going is that

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'Jesus was out and about and he was rolling his sleeves up

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'and he was getting stuck into people's lives.

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'That's very much what you see as a railway chaplain.'

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Jeff Potter is based at the station, and on the trains.

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He sees the highs and lows of both the passengers and the staff.

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It has its ups and downs.

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You often see the tragedies of life,

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people that have been killed on the railway, meet the families,

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meet people that have seen really nasty incidences,

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but you also get involved

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in the nitty-gritty of personal life, as well,

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for people on the station.

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It's like a little community, a little family.

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'And how did you become a railway chaplain, then?

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'Well, it goes back a long way.

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'I came to faith when I was in the army, as a young man.

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'While serving in Northern Ireland, I felt that...

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'A call from God, I suppose you'd call it, really,

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'where I thought I could do more things in life.'

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So, I left the army,

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went to theology college for a couple of years,

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and then applied to London City Mission, who supply the chaplains.

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They gave me the job to work as the underground chaplain,

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and I've done that for eight years.

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And six years working at Liverpool Street as a chaplain,

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and I've been over at King's Cross for about three-and-a-half years,

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now, covering this station, as well.

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During the London bombings, lots of terrible stuff going on,

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and lots of people just out walking the streets,

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trying to get home, and you know, the carnage that had gone on there.

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I was in the station and a train driver got off the train

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and he walked over and he saw the badge and he said, "Oh, Chaplain!

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"So, where's your God been today?" And I said,

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"Well, perhaps he's been people going around, like ourselves,

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"and we'd be trying to help people,

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"taking out water, and tea and biscuits,

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"and give them whatever comfort we can do in a bad situation."

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And he said, "Oh, all right, then. Perhaps you've got a point."

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Sort of walked off.

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Often, people will say, "Why did you become a Christian?

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"You seem quite normal."

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And there's just great opportunities to explain about your own faith,

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and to also talk about other people's faiths, as well.

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And to learn a little about, you know, their lifestyles,

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and their backgrounds and their faiths.

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As you walk around and you feel that you've got a connection to God

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yourself, you're hoping that, in some way,

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that connection is going to be made with other people.

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Through them - even though you know you're imperfect,

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and you do things wrong -

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through them seeing God at work in you, and in your life.

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As well as the railway chaplains, there are others

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-who are here to help. Good to see you.

-Nice to meet you.

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You've got, sort of, multiple roles in the station, haven't you?

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I have, yes. I also work for Eurostar.

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I'm an engineer. That's my full-time job. And with the police,

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I'm a special constable. And I just give a bit of time every month.

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What's the best bit about the job that you're doing now?

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It really is the communication. Meeting people.

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You know, this place is fantastic for that.

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You see people from all different walks of life.

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Some people don't need your help, some people do need your help.

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And it's nice to be able to see if you can assist in some way.

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I supervise a team of police officers

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and community support officers.

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We're responsible for the overall security in the station.

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We deal with passport control, retailers,

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and immigration authorities, the French police.

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We deal with all aspects of policing within the station.

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For you, it's a new crowd every day.

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Yes, we have a transit population in the passengers,

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but this place is a small town centre.

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So, the staff remain consistent.

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We form close working relationships with them,

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to make the place the safe, nice environment that it is.

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Basically, it is very, very much a community on rails.

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Do you get a lot of support from the railway chaplains?

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Yes. The railway chaplains are fantastic.

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There are certain things you don't want to take home with you.

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And you don't want to impart upon your partner, or anybody else,

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and that's where, in my view, the railway chaplains are fantastic.

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They are able to listen to you and, if not necessarily give you advice,

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but it's just nice to offload it onto someone.

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'We get everyday policing issues,

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'but we also get the really lovely thing in the morning,'

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when the kids are going up on the Eurostar, the happy faces,

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the tired faces when they come back. Not many days I don't enjoy.

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It's such a nice place to work.

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I still, after 38 years, enjoy coming to work.

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Well, these lucky travellers are heading off to Europe.

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Isn't it funny how people say "God speed"

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as someone sets off on a trip?

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It's a traditional way of wishing someone

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a safe and successful journey, with God's help.

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Well, our next hymn shares the same sentiments.

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The chaplains are always on the move,

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travelling out to other stations,

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meeting staff and passengers along the way.

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No day's the same. You can plan a day, and go out thinking,

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"I want to go and visit so-and-so at such-and-such a station,"

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or you'll have a conversation on the train with someone.

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They'll start off asking, what does the chaplain do?

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and then the personal stuff will come out.

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One of the local station staff the chaplains have helped is Albert.

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I had a bit of a problem in my personal life and Jeff,

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the railway chaplain, he came round. He was a wonderful guy.

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A nice chat, we prayed.

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And, on top of all that,

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he actually went down to where I was staying,

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and loaded up his car with a large portion of my stuff,

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and took it up to his own house and stored it there

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until I got myself sorted out in my new place.

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It seems to me, they seem to be the glue that holds the station together.

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Yes, because the glue is something you don't see

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until you need it, when things start coming apart.

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Enjoy the rest of the day, anyway. Take care, bye-bye.

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Another member of the chaplaincy team based at St Pancras

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is Byron Lewis.

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Byron, was it a calling for you, as well?

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'My god was money, really, and I felt money was what bought

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'really true happiness, and it didn't work out.'

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I wasn't really good at business

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and I got myself in debt,

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and I got myself spiralling down into depression.

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One night I was just reflecting on my life,

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I was feeling really down, and I really felt in need,

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and I called out to the so-called man in the sky,

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I know it's a bit impersonal,

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but, yeah, I had a sense of peace

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and that began my journey to God.

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And I found him in the Bible,

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and I had a real sense that, yeah, this was the way,

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this is my destiny, and I was called to the London City Mission.

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I'd been helping out in one of their local centres

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and I think this...

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God had mercy upon me. God had compassion upon me,

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and I wanted to share this compassion

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and this love, really, for people.

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'There was something that drew me to the railways,

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'is that... It was an instant,'

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I think it was in the BR days, and we never had tickets.

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The BR man said,

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"Look, I'm going to let you off,

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"but you've got to act like you've been fined."

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So, me and my mate were let off from paying the ticket.

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And, in a way, it's an expression of God's grace, really, to me,

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cos I've said some awful things against God as a young man

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and I want to share this grace with others, really.

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So, go on then,

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what's the best thing about being a railway chaplain?

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We've got this wonderful opportunity to go and visit so many people.

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We might be that little signpost pointing them towards God,

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or faith, or answers.

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Dear Lord, we thank you for the opportunity of travel.

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Inspire us to travel and experience the wider world.

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Protect those who get us to our destination

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and keep us safe on our journey.

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Amen.

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# The Lord bless you and keep you

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# The Lord make his face to shine upon you

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# To shine upon you and be gracious

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# And be gracious unto you

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# The Lord bless you and keep you

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# The Lord make his face to shine upon you

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# To shine upon you and be gracious

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# And be gracious unto you

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# The Lord lift up the light

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# Of his countenance upon you

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# The Lord lift up the light

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# Of his countenance upon you

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# And give you peace

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# And give you peace

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# And give you peace

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# And give you peace

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# A-a-amen

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# A-a-amen

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# A-a-amen

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# A-a-amen

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# A-a-amen

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# A-a-amen

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# A-a-amen. #

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Well, today has left me wondering where to go next.

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There are so many choices.

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We're going to end with a hymn giving thanks for guidance

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and strength on life's journey.

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Lord, For The Years. Until next time, bye.

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Next week, on your marks for an Olympic special,

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as Dan Walker looks forward to the greatest show on Earth.

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He'll meet some of Team GB's top athletes,

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discover more about one of his own Olympic heroes,

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and introduce some spectacular hymns, fit for the occasion.

0:33:090:33:13

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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