A SILSDEN-born woman who devoted much of her life to the famous Ffestiniog Railway has died at the age of 75.

Eileen Elisabeth Clayton, who died on December 27, gained the MBE for her work over several decades with the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’.

She was born Eileen Tunnicliffe in Silsden in 1944 and after a decade in the village moved with her family to Hellifield and became a keen trainspotter.

Working at Johnson & Johnson’s then as a post office cashier, she married in 1964 and moved to Blackburn. After studying at Lancaster University she became a science teacher.

Her love for Snowdonia – home to the Ffestiniog Railway – began during school trips, and she eventually moved to the area and became a lecturer for the Snowdonia National Park.

EIleen soon became involved with the nearby Ffestiniog Railway Society, passing out as a fireman, and from 1980 she ran courses focusing on the railway.

Society member Andy Savage wrote a lengthy tribute to Eileen’s life and work for the society’s electronic newsletter Inside Motion and quarterly magazine.

He wrote: “Eileen has featured many, many times in the pages of the Society magazine, a clear sign of her passion for, and contribution to, our railway. 

“She was one of the kindest people you could hope to meet. She would help anyone in trouble, dropping everything else, if that was appropriate.”

Eileen spent the late 1980s spearheading an improvement in the railway’s appearance, and began her 30-plus stint running the Parks & Gardens department.

Mr Savage wrote: “Eileen’s project management was outstanding, especially when volunteers were involved. She encouraged young people to maximise their potential.

“She made it her mission to bring in new volunteers, especially youngsters and we now have Company Directors who joined the railway as Eileen’s ‘kids’.”

Outside the railway, Eileen loved wildlife, hillwalking, and particularly Papillon dogs, which she bred.

In 1994 Eileen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but kept it under wraps for many years. By 2010 mounting ill-health forced her to use a mobility scooter, but she remained involved in the railway.