Young man all steamed up over dream job

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 19/02/2013

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A Palmerston North train enthusiast has landed his dream job on the Kingston Flyer after a three-week work experience stint worked out well.

Former Awatapu College student, Cameron Persson, 18, secured a position as a fireman, or stoker, on the well-known vintage steam train last week and starts his new job tomorrow.

In his first South Island trip, Mr Persson had almost a month's worth of long days and dirty work: shovelling coal, cleaning the engine, oiling it, and learning how to fire it properly.

But once his work experience was nearly up, he approached Kingston Flyer's managing director, David Bryce, for fulltime employment.

"I thought I'd ask him, just to see . . . and he told me: ‘Not at the moment, but I'll think about it'."

"Well, he must have thought about it pretty quickly because the next day he came back to me and offered me the job."

Mr Persson is making the trip to his new home in Queenstown Lakes district today, and next week he's sitting a test to become a certified stoker.

From there, if he can get a foot in the cab door he'd be "stoked", but is happy as a fireman, with the long-term goal of becoming a train driver.

"It's a very good starting point . . . then I'll see how I go."

He is following in the footsteps of his good friend Joshua Zajonskowski, who has been working at the Kingston Flyer for nearly six months.

Landing a job on the flyer was a rare opportunity, Mr Persson said.

His nana Josephine Persson said the family was proud as punch over her grandson's recent appointment.

"He's always wanted to be a train driver and work with engines."

Mr Persson has spent the past four years as a volunteer driver at the Esplanade Scenic Railway and helping out at the Feilding and District Steam Rail Society.

The society's general manager Russell Wiseman said it was promising to see young people like Mr Persson choosing the railways as a career.

"I wish we had more of them coming through . . . he's learnt a lot from us all here, he was a good listener, takes direction well and he'll have a bright future."

Mr Persson will be under the eye of longtime Kingston Flyer operations manager and engineer Russell Glendinning, who saved and restored the train back in the 1970s and has been its driver for more than 40 years.

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- Manawatu Standard

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