University of Aberdeen student's first book raises thousands for charity

A University of Aberdeen student is helping to raise money for charity after writing a book on the sacrifices made by railway staff that lost their lives during World War One.

Jeremy Higgins, who is currently researching the UK's ambulance trains on the Western Front, 1914-18 as part of his MLitt, wrote the book after being inspired by the Great Western Railway War Memorial at Leamington Spa train station.

Six months after returning from active duty in Iraq in 2007, Jeremy was standing on the station platform in Leamington Spa waiting for his train to Birmingham where he felt compelled to do something to honour the railway heroes of WW1. After glancing over at the Great Western Railway memorial, wondering about the men behind the names, he decided to start researching them.

The army reservist and rail worker from Daventry then spent seven years researching and penning The Great War Railwaymen which was published last month.

The proceeds from the book, which examines the exploits of 12,500 railway forbears, will go to The Railway Benefit Fund and The Army Benevolent Fund – The Soldiers’ Charity, to help those who have served our country in more recent generations. Over £40,000 has already been raised for Jeremy’s chosen charities.

Jeremy, who is based in Daventry, recently visited the University to present library staff with a copy of his book. He said: “My aim with the book is to try to remember these people who served and died during the war, and to tell their stories to a new generation. The Great War Railwaymen is vital to our understanding of the railways, and those that ran them, and the significant role they played. I also wanted to raise money for two wonderful causes, which are very close to my heart.

“It has taken me seven years to research 12,500 of the 20,000-plus railwaymen who died in the Great War. I think their stories are just fascinating and hope others will too.

“Juggling completing the book, alongside my day-to-day work and studying has been a challenging experience, however it has definitely all been worth it. It is fantastic to see the book in print and in bookshops – now I have to concentrate on getting my MLitt finished too!”

Professor Anthony Heywood, Chair in History at the University of Aberdeen added: "Jeremy's dedication to not only his studies but also to producing his book has been outstanding. He has already raised so much money for his chosen charities and his book has only been for sale for a few week. We are all extremely proud of what he has achieved."