Broadstairs youngster features in 100 Years of Firsts exhibition by London North Eastern Railway

Willow with parents Emma Louise and Jay

Broadstairs six-year-old Willow Hughes features in a major exhibition to mark LNER’s (London North Eastern Railway) 100th anniversary of the East Coast Main Line.

Willow shares how she was able travel by rail to feed the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo as part of a collection of 100 stories celebrating rail travel firsts across the last 100 years.

During the past century, the East Coast Main Line has contributed to many significant firsts within people’s lives and the multimedia exhibition to mark the landmark anniversary is celebrating some of the most pioneering feats and special moments it has made possible.

Available online and as part of a podcast, ‘100 Years of Firsts’ shines a light on a century of remarkable, moving, and heart-warming tales from passengers, relatives, LNER colleagues and historians.

The exhibition includes written stories, audio recordings and photography and features a series of stories from Kent.

Willow, along with dad Jay, helped her mum Emmy Louise mark her 40th birthday in style with a trip to Edinburgh Zoo to feed the two pandas – Yang Guang and Tian Tian.

LNER provided first-class treatment, ensuring their trip was truly a special experience. The VIP treatment didn’t stop there. Emmy and Willow enjoyed exclusive access to the zoo, with a behind-the-scenes tour of the animal enclosures.

The ultimate highlight for Emmy was witnessing Willow’s joy as she fed Yang Guang and Tian Tian, Edinburgh Zoo’s cherished pandas which are set to return to China.

Claire Ansley, People and Customer Experience Director at LNER, said: “Since 1923, LNER and firsts have gone hand in hand. Whether it’s breaking speed records, introducing cinema carriages or hiring the UK’s first black train driver, our pioneering spirit continues to push us forward along with millions of customers every year.

“Each story in this exhibition marks a moment. From touching personal accounts to lesser-known milestones of historical significance born out of a rich history of pioneering progress, the number of firsts which have been marked on the East Coast Main Line is incredible.”