George the dog in miracle escape after 90mph train near-miss

“The vets said it was a miracle,” says relieved owner

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 12:05 pm

A Labrador which had become disoriented after suffering a seizure came within inches of death after being spotted on the tracks at Bedford station.

Station staff and the neighbouring rail depot staged a dramatic rescue after clocking George near the fast line.

The poor pooch had been missing from Kempston for several days since the seizure and captured the hearts of hundreds of people in the town who were desperately trying to find him.

From left, family friend Kyle Odell, Network Rail mobile operations manager Terry Prestedge, family friend Dan Narcks, George's owner, Tracy Wooding, and Bernie Lee, Bedford Thameslink station manager

An appeal was posted on Facebook and hundreds joined in the search to look for him.

And on Thursday evening at around 5pm, George was spotted on the track alongside the fast line at Bedford station.

Bernie Lee, Thameslink station manager at Bedford, said: “The two owners were on the platforms either side, one of them on his knees, understandably hysterical and calling to the dog.

"My heart was in my mouth. I was worried not only for the dog but terrified the owners would come on to the track too and put their lives at risk.

“For the safety of everyone, I took an instant decision to have the power turned off.

"As that was happening, an East Midlands Train came through at 90mph. George was spooked as the train went past him and ran backwards across the neighbouring slow lines and off towards the sidings.

“Lots of people were helping from the station and nearby depot, communicating on the radio and one of our drivers, Kerry Eagle, and one of our shunter drivers, Chris Williams, were helping keep track of him.

“Terry Prestedge, who is a mobile operations manager with Network Rail, was in the nearby depot and heard the commotion on the staff radio. He came out and joined in, eventually getting hold of George, using the belt of his own trousers as a lead to take him to safety and reunite him with his overjoyed owners.”

Bernie added: “Everyone here at Thameslink is so delighted and relieved that George is safe and sound. First finding him following the appeal on Facebook and then rescuing him from the danger of the tracks with our colleague at Network Rail was a real community effort.”

Bernie has in the past been commended for saving the life of a young person who was trying to take his life at another station on the Thameslink line.

Jenny Saunders, customer services director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “Bernie’s quick thinking and the coordinated efforts of everyone at Bedford station and the neighbouring train depot averted what could very easily have been a tragic situation for both the dog and his owners.

“We often say that our rail service is at the heart of the communities we serve. I think that what Bernie and her team at Bedford station did with the drivers and Network Rail engineer at the neighbouring depot shows just how true this is.”

Owner Vicky Wooding said: “It’s been an absolute horrific couple of days. The vets said it was a miracle, they don’t know how he’s alive with such minimal injuries.

“Our dog is our life, he’s our child. Honestly, the staff at Bedford station were so helpful and without them we wouldn’t have George back. They’ve been fantastic.”