By her own confession Alexa Stott was not from a railway background, however, born and raised in Settle, with the world famous Settle & Carlisle railway literally on her parents’ doorstep, she had many childhood encounters with steam locomotives and was always fascinated by their sheer size and power, smell and noise. Having spent several years in merchant banking in the City of London, until Alexa started work at William Cook Cast Products, the occasional visit to the National Railway Museum or a preserved railway with her children was about as far as her interest in railways went.
She had worked for Andrew Cook, Chairman of the company, for about a year and had noted early on, probably because it was at the front of the cabinet, a file labelled ‘A1 Trust’ but had had no reason to check its contents. A trip to one of the William Cook subsidiaries at Stanhope changed all that. On the return journey, the meeting there having finished early, Andrew announced that he wanted to check on the progress of a project the company was involved in. It took a while to find a nondescript building in a suburb of Darlington before being ushered through an unremarkable green door for the first time, avoiding the low ceiling, seeing machinery and lights through a doorway ahead of her and then….a steam engine, a HUGE steam engine hidden away from the public gaze, a sleeping giant.
Alexa’s first meeting was not with a complete engine, however, far from it. At that point Tornado had no boiler, no tender, only a shell of a cab but looking up at the smoke box and along the line of the frames and those enormous driving wheels and she was smitten. It wasn’t long before Mark Allatt realised this too and suggested that it would be helpful for her to act as a liaison between the company (WCCP) and the Trust and the position of Trustee soon followed. Alexa took on the roles of sponsorship coordinator and covenantor care, work which involved many hours of voluntary effort. Subsequently she also acquired responsibility for the ‘Tornado Team’ for younger supporters of No. 60163. At the beginning of 2015 Alexa announced her intention to stand down as a trustee of the A1SLT after many years involvement. Now heavily involved with Barrow Hill Roundhouse, Alexa remains a Covenantor.