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Back of the net: Hatters back facemask campaign on trains

RAIL operator Thameslink has enlisted the help of Luton Town FC in its efforts to encourage young people to wear face coverings when travelling on its trains.

Thameslink have given the latest intake of 17- and 18-year-old apprentices at the Hatters a year’s free travel to their places of study and training. Some could not afford to attend otherwise.

In return the Academy players are acting as role models for young rail passengers. Research shows that young men especially are more likely to underestimate the risk of catching or transmitting Covid-19 and are therefore less likely to wear a mask or covering than others.

Tom Moran, managing director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “Passengers can rest assured that we are keeping our trains and stations clean and safe with long-lasting viruscides.

“All passengers must wear a face covering at all times, at the station and on the train. This includes young people who might not be affected so severely by Covid-19 themselves but are just as likely to catch and transmit it.”

Luton Town apprentices Corey Wilson (front), Josh Swan and Adam Wedd.

Thameslink has offered free travel to Luton Town’s apprentices for the past 12 years. “We work a lot with young people, to provide confidence building and upskilling opportunities that make a difference to their lives,” said Mr Moran.

“This partnership with the Hatters not only allows young sportsmen to take up opportunities they would otherwise not be able to enjoy but it helps us spread this important message: Wear a face covering to protect everyone around you.”

Dale Brunton, head of education and welfare at the club’s Academy, said: “Thameslink have been an excellent partner for Luton Town Football Club, especially for the young men within our Academy, allowing them to develop both on and off the field.

“We have young men from a wide range of backgrounds and some would not be able to attend training and games if it were not for Thameslink’s generosity.

“The partnership also allows our apprentices to give back to the local community via social action days and at this challenging time they will be proud role models for safe travel by train.”

Adam Wedd in training.

Second year apprentice Coree Wilson said: “The train pass from Thameslink has been invaluable for me during my apprenticeship.”

First year apprentice Adam Wedd added: “The link between Luton Town and Thameslink is fantastic. Without the pass I would struggle to get in every day.”

Academy graduates who have benefited from GTR’s travel support in past years include Sam Beckwith, Corey Panter and Josh Neufville, all now full-time professionals at Luton Town, and defender James Justin, who now plays for Leicester City in the Premier League.

Midfielder Sam Beckwith said: “The pass allowed me to attend all training sessions and games during my apprenticeship, which had a hugely positive impact on my development.”