Gifts in Wills

The Bluebell Railway Trust is a Registered Charity, No. 292497

1. Why make a Will

A Will is a simple and clear set of instructions to everyone on just how you want your assets to be distributed after you have gone.

A Will:

  • helps family and friends to cope with the legal and financial side of death,
  • is a simple and clear set of instructions to everyone on just how you want your assets to be distributed after you have gone,
  • removes doubt and argument on the distribution of your assets thereby avoiding disputes.

In many cases, Gifts in Wills – also known as legacies – will be left to immediate family connections but, nowadays, many people also like to remember a special charity or good cause based on their lifetime interests. 

Deriving income from legacies has become a key fundraising activity for many charities as seen by the increasing number of television and other advertising campaigns for every conceivable good cause.

The Bluebell Railway is no exception in its desire to be in receipt of Gifts in Wills from its friends and supporters.  Over the years, The Bluebell Railway Trust has benefitted greatly from Gifts in Wills and Legacies from former members and supporters of the Railway.  As The Bluebell Trust is a registered charity, all such sums received are exempt from Inheritance Tax and are applied for investment in future projects for renovation and restoration of the Railway’s prized assets.

Without a Will:

  • to die without leaving a Will – being intestate – can make difficulties for those already affected by your death,
  • if you die intestate, there are set rules on how your estate must be distributed,
  • even if loved ones know what your intentions were, these may not be interpreted as you might have wished.

Thus, it makes sense therefore to set out your wishes in a Will.  Surprisingly, millions of individuals in the UK do not have a Will. Even if you already have a Will, your instructions might be out of date and may benefit from revision.

Jewel in the Crown - Horsted Keynes Station

Examples of what legacies can achieve:

Putting the sparkle back into Horsted Keynes Station

An ambitious project to carry out extensive conservation work at Horsted Keynes Station.  The first phase of work is costing approximately £750,000, and well over half of the funding came from Gifts in Wills.

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2. Benefit of leaving a Gift to The Bluebell Railway Trust

Estates in excess of the nil rate band of £325,000 are subject to inheritance tax.  However, gifts to charities do not attract inheritance tax.

If you leave 10% or more of your net estate (after deducting inheritance tax exemptions, reliefs and the nil rate band) to charity, the remaining estate will be taxed at 36% instead of 40%.  This makes legacy giving considerably more attractive, since the other beneficiaries will forgo less than before.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, and in all cases it is strongly advised to take legal and tax advice on the drawing up of a Will.  This will be especially important where the intention is to give 10% or more of one’s residuary estate to charity, as the sum this represents can almost certainly not be calculated in advance.

Nomination of Pension Funds
In additional using a Will to donate to the Railway, another possibility is a distribution from a personal pension fund.

Many people are taking advantage of the flexible arrangements now available for their personal pension funds.  As it is no longer compulsory to buy an annuity on retirement, a pension fund can be dealt with as the person wishes.  However, any capital remaining in a pension fund is not treated as being part of an estate and neither is it covered by a Will.  It is an entirely separate asset which is usually dealt with by a “letter of wishes” or a nomination form.  Where the person dies after the age of 75 a tax charge of up to 45% will arise when the pension fund is paid out.  However, charities such as The Bluebell Railway Trust are exempt from tax.  Therefore, if you have a private pension fund, you might like to consider naming the Trust as a beneficiary.

Fenchurch at East Grinstead - Neil Glaskin - 1 Dec 2022

LBSCR No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’

‘Fenchurch’ is the oldest locomotive on the Bluebell, built in 1872.

It has recently returned to service after a major overhaul.  The contract overhaul of its chassis was funded thanks to an unrestricted legacy.

(Photo: Neil Glaskin)

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3. Talk to us to understand what the Railway needs

We understand that drawing up a Will or making provision from a pension fund is a personal and private matter and involves some confidential and often complex decisions.  We therefore strongly advise that you consult a solicitor to prepare or amend your will.  However, if you would like to discuss in complete confidence how a legacy to the Trust might be used we would be pleased to hear from you.  Please contact Vernon Blackburn by email, or call the Trust office, on Wednesdays only, on 01825 720818.  However, if you prefer, it is not necessary to let the Trust know if you have remembered it in some way.

SteamWorks! - John Sandys - 25 October 2018

SteamWorks! at Sheffield Park

The project included re-roofing the locomotive shed, an interactive exhibition area and a new locomotive maintenance building.

The total cost was £1.7 million, funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund and The Bluebell Railway Trust.

(Photo: John Sandys)

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4. Suggested wording to include in your Will

There are three kinds of Gifts in Wills which can be left to The Bluebell Railway Trust which are described below with suggested wording for each:-


Pecuniary  –  a gift of a specific amount.

I give the sum of £………… to The Bluebell Railway Trust (RCN 292497) of Sheffield Park Station, near Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 3QL.


Specific –  a gift of specific items, such as a locomotive nameplate or number plate, railway models, or photograph collection which may either be added to the Museum or Archives collections or be sold for the benefit of the Railway.  If you are considering this kind of gift, we would appreciate the opportunity to discuss in advance your intentions because some items, such as model railway layouts would not be easy to accommodate. 

Specific legacies of non-railway assets such as investments or property are also gratefully received.

I give my collection of locomotive nameplates, lamps, station signs and other objects of Railwayana to The Bluebell Railway Trust (RCN 292497) of Sheffield Park Station, near Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 3QL to be sold for the benefit of the Railway or for display in the museum as the Trustees shall in their discretion decide and as appropriate for the proceeds of sale to be applied in the general purposes of the Trust.


Residuary –  a gift of a share or even the whole of your estate after expenses and other legacies have been paid.  

Depending on your circumstances this is the best way of benefiting the Railway as the value of the legacy will tend to maintain its value in real terms.  

(gift of the whole residue)     My Trustees shall hold my residuary estate and the income therefrom upon trust for The Bluebell Railway Trust (RCN 292497) of Sheffield Park Station, near Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 3QL for general purposes absolutely

(gift of a share of residue)     My Trustees shall hold my residuary estate and the income therefrom upon trust to divide the same into one hundred shares (100) of equal value and shall hold such shares upon the following trusts and subject to the following provisions:

(a)  as to ……………….such shares for The Bluebell Railway Trust (RCN 292497) of Sheffield Park Station  near Uckfield  East Sussex  TN22 3QL for general purposes absolutely 
Pullman Car 54 under overhaul - Richard Salmon - 4 January 2023

Pullman Car No. 54

This 1923-built Pullman Car has been undergoing restoration since 2016.  Uniquely, it is being adapted for full wheelchair access.  Funding available for the overhaul has included that from unrestricted legacies.

All being well, it will enter service in 2023.

As the needs of the Railway vary from year to year it is generally preferable not to place restrictions on the use of a gift.  However, we understand that you may prefer to stipulate that a gift be used for a particular purpose such as for the restoration of a particular locomotive or carriage or the upkeep of a particular station. However, this can lead to difficulties if for example a locomotive, such as Fenchurch, has already been restored or another has no long term prospect of being restored. 

It is sometimes the case that the donor wishes his/her gift of residue to be applied more specifically, such as for locomotive or carriage maintenance or for the restoration of a particular station.  Although the Bluebell Trust would always prefer the gift to be “for general purposes and without imposing any binding trust”, if the donor adds “but I express the wish that such funds be applied for the restoration and maintenance of [particular locomotives … or other rolling stock … or other aspects of infrastructure]”, the Trustees will do their utmost to respect such wishes.

H-class with Golden Arrow - Andrew Strongitharm

Overhaul of No. 263

The overhaul of the SECR H-class locomotive started at the end of 2022, and this has been made possible by a legacy specifically left to the Trust to fund the work.


(Photo: Andrew Strongitharm)

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5. How to include a Gift to the Trust in your Will

It is quite likely that many people will already have drawn up Wills.  For those who have not made provisions for the future, it is recommended that professional help is sought from a solicitor.  This may be your own solicitor but, as an alternative and in order to help out, The Bluebell Railway Trust has linked up with Mayo Wynne Baxter – a leading local firm of solicitors – to offer a user-friendly online Will-writing service.


A new way to writing a Will

This service does not generate any income or commission for the Railway and, furthermore, it is not a requirement that any Gifts in Wills be made to the Railway. This service is completely confidential and, most importantly, no details of your intentions will ever be available to the Trust at any time. This is in line with The Bluebell Railway’s Privacy Policy.

The role of the Railway in this scheme is to act as referrer to an independent firm that has no direct relationship with us.  Our partners for this scheme will work directly with each individual to help set up and/or modify specific Wills.  More details are in the next two sections.

Track relaying in Rock Cutting - Paul Booth - 13 January 2018

Track upgrades 

Parts of our track dated back to before 1920, but over the last 10 years there has been a continuous programme of track replacement and upgrade. The new track provides a much smoother ride and, importantly, reduces the wear on locomotive and rolling stock springs and wheels.

This huge programme of work would not have been possible without legacy funding.

(Photo: Paul Booth)

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6Our partners: Mayo Wynne Baxter and LawEasier


Mayo Wynne Baxter is a long-established firm of solicitors based primarily in Sussex.  It was founded by John Wynne Baxter in 1867 in Lewes.  He became most famous when he played a key judicial role during the ‘Jack the Ripper’ Whitechapel Murders of 1888 – 1891.

Over the last 150 years Mayo Wynne Baxter (MWB) has expanded by merger and acquisition to now have seven local offices throughout Sussex with two new offices due to open in 2023 in Kent and Surrey.  During its long history, the firm has developed a strong reputation for the quality of its services and for its innovation. 

MWB has set up one of the first ‘one-stop shop’ online services called ‘LawEasier’ to give easy and quick access to a wide range of legal services designed and written in plain English making it easier for the layperson to understand

The Trust is working with the Eastbourne branch office of MWB at:

   Mayo Wynne Baxter, 20 Gildredge Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4RP.


LawEasier – Will-writing service – This is an online service that enables you to quickly compile and complete your Will.

It comprises a series of questions to be answered, starting with the obvious one of the name of the person making the Will.  At each stage the data entered is saved and, if required, it can be backtracked to make changes/updates.  There is a ‘Help’ facility with every question and there is an ability to ‘pause’ and return to the process at any time.

As progress is made, the Will document is updated continuously so there is never any chance of losing or having to re-enter data.  Once the question/answer process is complete, the Will can be reviewed before acceptance.

While going through the process, it is quite likely that questions will arise that are not immediately answered by the Help function.  With this in mind, there is a ‘one to one’ consultation at the end of the process with a qualified legal person to fine-tune and/or resolve any questions.  There is no additional charge for this consultation.

Included in the Will-writing service is a particularly useful feature known as a ‘Digital Asset Log.’


What is the ‘Digital Asset Log’?

Your ‘digital assets’ comprise data that you manage or store on your computer, tablet, smartphone or online.  This includes information such as passwords, photos, videos, music, e-books, blogs, domain names, movies, emails, conversations, social media, games, bank accounts and medical records.  Importantly, it can contain passwords so that surviving family members and/or executors can access such information after your death.

The Digital Asset Log is available as part of the Will-writing service at no extra charge.


So… how much does it cost?

The cost varies according to the type of Will that you require.  As an example, for a single, unmarried person, the cost of a Will including the Digital Asset Log is £150 including VAT.

As a member of the Bluebell family, you are entitled to a discount of 25% of this fee bringing the cost down to £112.50.  The code is ‘Bluebell’.  This code is automatically applied when users sign up on this link, however if users wish to apply it directly to documents before sign up, they can via the code box, which is available on each product.


Other legal services through LawEasier

Also available through MWB’s LawEasier service is a whole range of related legal services, all at the same competitive rates and all subject to a discount of 25%. 

These services include:

  • Lasting Powers of Attorney for property and financial affairs;
  • Lasting Powers of Attorney for health and welfare;
  • Documents for Application for Probate.

MWB does offer other general legal services at its normal commercial rates; the Bluebell discount is only applicable to LawEasier services.

O1 at Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 30 March 2003

This 1896-built locomotive is now owned by the Trust

The purchase in 2021 of SECR O1-class locomotive No. 65 would not have been possible without unrestricted Gifts left to the Trust in Wills.

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7. Visit LawEasier to make your Will

LawEasierMaking a Will is one of the most important things in your life and, despite your feelings of immortality, sooner or later, your life will cease.  Therefore, it is better to be prepared in advance because the prospect of dying intestate can cause major problems for those left behind.

So, firstly, you should take a few preliminary steps:

  • Think carefully about the assets and any liabilities you hold either solely in your own name or jointly with your spouse/partner or other third party;
  • Consult your own solicitor to seek general advice on your future estate and to give instructions for the preparation of your will.
  • If you decide to use this Will-writing service, please follow this link to LawEasier for the Bluebell’s 25% discount.  Further details are in the section above.

Once you subscribe to this service, all correspondence and information will only be dealt with via the LawEasier service.

Please be assured that no personal information nor details of any transactions will be accessible by the Railway.

If you are unable to access the internet and/or require a more personal and traditional service in making or amending you Will, we will be pleased to pass on your contact details to Mayo Wynne Baxter.

Rivetting Fenchurch's boiler - Andy Kelly - 3 May 2022



The preservation of skills for the future is a key policy of the Railway. 

To this end, the Trust funds apprenticeships, largely thanks to money received through legacies. 

Currently the Railway has 3 apprentices.

(Photo: Andy Kelly)