Unsung Hero: South West Trains worker likes to put a smile on peoples' faces (From This Is Local London)
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Unsung Hero: South West Trains worker from Chessington likes to put a smile on peoples' faces
A grandmother who helps vulnerable, disabled and elderly people get off trains and on to their next engagement, has said she “likes to put a bit of a smile on peoples’ faces”.
Chessington woman Maria Atfield, 58, has been working as a meet and greet officer for South West Trains for more than three years and says she loves her job.
She helps wheelchair users get around, carries the bags of those who are not so able and finds ways to make it easier for customers with special needs to enjoy their train journey.
She said: “My job is to help make their journey a little easier. I help people off the train and towards the next part of their journey, perhaps by taxi. It is a real caring role. I love it. I get paid for talking all day long.”
The mother-of-two started off as a travel safety officer working alongside the British Transport Police more than 10 years ago but has finally found her ideal role based at Waterloo station.
She said: “I like to put a smile on peoples’ faces. It can be very sad – especially with children, but I like to make them feel positive and have a giggle with them.
“It is important to help someone, make them feel special and not like a burden.”
Mrs Atfield, of Compton Crescent, also enjoys travelling and has a holiday home in Spain that she has even offered up for a family visit to one of her regular teenage customers who has a spinal injury.
She is also a partygoer who takes some elderly Chessington ladies on a weekly Wednesday night out.
There are a number of meet and greet workers who work around the capital to help customers and can be booked for free.
Jim O’Brien, station manager at Waterloo, said: “We get lots of customers writing in about how helpful Maria is. She is one of our most enthusiastic staff members – she is a real asset.
“Maria does stand out without a doubt.”
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