GALLERY: Bench unveiled at Hassocks railway station to honour Louie

Parents Louise and Ray and their daughter Francesca. Picture supplied by Govia Thameslink Railway
Parents Louise and Ray and their daughter Francesca. Picture supplied by Govia Thameslink Railway

A memorial bench to honour a young train enthusiast was unveiled at Hassocks railway station on Monday.

Louie Butler-James died suddenly at the age of 16 on March 22 last year, following a pulmonary embolism - a risk related to nephrotic syndrome, which he was diagnosed with aged just one.

To honour Louie’s love for Southern and their trains, Graham Thrower, Southern station manager for Haywards Heath to Preston Park, held the event at the railway station and unveiled the bench to a turn-out of around 40 family and friends.

He said: “It was an honour to play host to Louie’s family and friends for the unveiling of the bench. He was a very special young man with a great love of our trains.

“I am so pleased that we could dedicate a section of the platform at Hassocks railway station to him and his family, in his memory.”

Louie loved Southern trains from an early age. His parents Louise and Ray said: “Louie had a life-long passion for trains so to have a bench on the platform in his memory means a great deal to all of us.

“This is somewhere that family and friends can sit and remember him and is a place where so many people start their journeys – Louie would have enjoyed that.

“We would like to this opportunity to say huge thank you to our good friend Gayle Newman and Graham Thrower from Southern Rail who made all this possible.”

Born just around the corner from Brighton railway station and hearing his dad, Ray’s tales of commuting, Louie’s interest in trains was clear from the start.

Much of his childhood revolved around his beloved trains and by the time he was four, he knew every single train stop along the line, his family said.

The family moved to Hassocks in 2005 and much to Louie’s joy, their new house was right next to the railway station. The family expanded with the arrival of Louie’s sister Francesca in 2010.

Louie’s love for the railway, stimulated by the family’s close proximity to the railway station, only continued, and saw him join Southern for a stint of work experience and a few years later undertook a train driving simulator test, which he passed with flying colours in May 2012.

Louie attended Downlands Community School and Vardean College. Throughout his life, trains were an important hobby. His knowledge of all the types of trains and stations was ‘outstanding’ – his family said.

“He didn’t just love the trains themselves, but everything associated with them – he could tell you which train was coming just by the sound,” they added.

Family friend Gayle Newman also helped organise the event on Monday.