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MBE awarded to inspirational Ashton railway security chief

An Ashton woman leading the railway security sector has been awarded an MBE in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours list.

Paula Durrans, 58, said she was "delighted and humbled" to receive the honour for her role as Great Western Railway’s former Head of Security.

For the past 16 years, she has led and managed security for GWR for the nation's most high-profile events, including leading on royal occasions at Windsor, such as the Platinum Jubilee, funerals of HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, and the coronation of HM King Charles III.

During her career, Paula also founded the Football Rail Taskforce at a time when travelling football fans were a challenge for customers, the sport and the railway.

She said: “I’m humbled and shocked, but delighted and deeply honoured to be recognised like this. The rail industry – at train companies, Network Rail and the British Transport Police - is full of fantastic people who want to make a difference for customers and colleagues.

“I have had a fantastic career on the railway and I’m delighted we’ve been able to make such a difference together.”

Paula began her career as a stewardess for British Rail before becoming one of the first women to be accepted onto the company’s management trainee scheme and embarking on a number of railway operational roles.

Paula successfully managed all the GWR security aspects for the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, liaising with security teams for world leaders. She retired earlier this year.

GWR Business Assurance Director, Joe Graham said: “Paula’s visionary approach to security has set new standards in our industry and her commitment to excellence and our customers and colleagues is unparalleled.

“During her 16 years as GWR’s Head of Security she made it her mission to ensure the safety and security of both our customers and our colleagues every day. Her recent work to the embed Safeguarding principles across the GWR network, and the wider railway, has delivered a better, safer railway for everyone and her legacy will continue to felt be all who travel with us for years to come.”

British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan OBE described Paula as an "inspirational role model to many aspiring members of underrepresented women working in the industry". 

He added: “She has always demonstrated a drive to challenge the status quo if it means a safer network for passengers and staff.

“The years of public service she has given to British railways means that she is a wealth of operational knowledge. Paula has been a driving force behind the football task force. I personally have sought her counsel in relation to what has worked, and more importantly what has not worked, in terms of policing the challenges of football related travel on the network.”

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