In early 2017, after 16 years as Chairman of the organisation – and 26 years spearheading the Trust’s marketing, PR and fundraising – Mark stood down from the Chairmanship to focus on the construction of No. 2007 Prince of Wales as P2 Project Director; in this role, Mark is responsible for strategy and the overall management of the project. In addition to his leadership of the P2 Project, where he will prioritise PR, fundraising and marketing, he also continues to have oversight of and contribute to the rest of the Trust’s PR, marketing and fundraising activities, as well as playing an important role in the Trust’s strategic planning across all of its commitments.
Mark was born in 1965 in Sheffield but raised and educated in Dronfield in north Derbyshire and Bottesford in North Lincolnshire, just outside Scunthorpe. Family cine footage recorded Mark’s first encounter with No. 4472 (with Dave Court firing!) in 1967. His interest in railways was further kindled by Triang-Hornby models, initially purchased second-hand but it was the arrival of a Flying Scotsman set for Christmas in 1970 that probably cemented his love of all things LNER. Holidays usually included at least one day dedicated to the pursuit of steam or railways and found the young Allatt attending preserved lines as diverse as the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (he remembers that Standard 4MT tank No. 80135 was in traffic), Carnforth when Sir Nigel Gresley was in steam and Barrow Hill when Blue Peter paid a visit in the early ‘70s.
University education, initially at De Montfort, Leicester, saw Mark gain a degree in politics & economics while maintaining his interest in railways with membership of the Gresley and A4 Societies, even though he felt both needed a degree of modernising. After experience in the world of politics with a foreign policy ‘think tank’ and running an election campaign (in addition to standing for Parliament in 1997), Mark moved into P.R., initially with Hoskyns, before progressing to ever more senior and demanding roles at the likes of KPMG, GVA, Deloitte and Bird & Bird before branching out on his own as a company chairman, director, NED, consultant and campaigner. He is currently working independently offering experienced marketing, communications, business development and brand consultancy for the B2B sector. Mark has recently been elected chair of the LNER Society.
Reading ‘Steam Railway’ magazine in 1990, Mark got wind of the A1 project, attending the second meeting at King’s Cross in March 1991; it was at this gathering that David Champion asked for volunteers and Mark put his hand up to help with the marketing, PR and fundraising – the rest, as they say, is history. Mark’s busy life remains intertwined with the A1 Trust, keeping Tornado in the public eye and active on the main line as the organisation commences the construction of the seventh member of Gresley’s master class in engineering and elegance; long may he remain involved.