Stirling’s popular Landtrain played host to a birthday party when train lover Ross Parker celebrated his special day on board.
Ross, who is autistic, lives in Larbert and comes into Stirling every week with his father Jim to travel around the city on the Landtrain run by Go Forth Stirling Business Improvement District.
He was one of the first passengers to take the train following its launch last year and it’s now become a regular fixture in his life enabling him to socialise and enjoy a day out.
Ross, 22, and Jim have struck up a friendship with Landtrain driver Craig O’Brien during their rides around Stirling and were delighted when Craig suggested Ross should celebrate his birthday on board.
Go Forth gave Ross and his family and friends exclusive use of the train for two hours and provided banners, balloons and a birthday cake to help them celebrate in style.
Jim said: “It was a fantastic day and Ross had a wonderful time. He thoroughly enjoyed the trip and we’re grateful to Craig and Go Forth Stirling for organising this for us.
“Ross has autism and other physical issues and life can be quite challenging so it’s great to have found something he loves to do.
“I first read about the Landtrain when it launched, decided we’d give it a shot and have never looked back.
“It gets Ross out on a regular basis and gives him the chance to socialise with other people. He also enjoys photography and will take photos all the time he’s on the Landtrain.
“He’s really enjoying the new route down to Forthside because it gives him a longer trip around the city and when we come along each week we always go around twice.
“It’s a fantastic attraction and Craig and his team – his son Ryan and Debbie Ritchie – are brilliant with Ross.”
Ross along with his family and friends, several of them with special needs, enjoyed travelling along the Landtrain route twice before celebrating with a cake to mark his 22nd birthday.
Craig said: “Ross and his guests had a great time and were overwhelmed by the fact we decorated the train with balloons and banners and provided music and cake which they all enjoyed.
“Ross is a regular passenger with us and has taken a real shine to the train – we enjoy seeing him, his family and carers and he always brightens our day and has a big cheeky smile for us.
“We organised the party as we wanted to do something special for Ross especially as he looks forward to travelling on the train and seeing us all so much.”
Go Forth Stirling Manager Mags Fenner said: “We were delighted to give Ross and his family a Landtrain birthday party.
“It’s been a joy for all of us see how much the Landtrain has meant to Ross since it launched last year.”
The Go Forth team have had inquiries about private hire of the Landtrain for birthday parties and special events.
Following the positive feedback from the Parker family, the Go Forth team will develop a hire package so others can enjoy an experience similar to Ross’.
Part of the five-year Go Forth Stirling Business Plan, the Landtrain was introduced during Easter 2018 with the aim of operating through the main tourism months and providing a key link between traders and the Castle.
Its route was recently extended to cover more of the city and its attractions, and the train ran daily throughout the school holidays proving popular with residents and visitors alike.
The extended Landtrain route takes around an hour from start to finish costing £2 for a hop on/hop off day pass and free for children under five.
Passengers can join the train at Forthside Car Park, near the Vue Cinema, or get on board at various stops along the route.
From Forthside, the Landtrain travels along Forthside Way towards the city centre with stops at Barnton Street, King Street, St John Street (set down only), the Castle Esplanade, Broad Street and Station Road before heading back.
Further improvement plans for the Landtrain include a GPS Commentary system highlighting landmarks and places of interest around the route and a map for passengers.
Meanwhile, a dedicated Facebook page has been set up for the attraction with information about running times and more.
For details, visit www.facebook.com/GoForthStirlingLandTrain