Shropshire Star winner Toni enjoys her VIP moment as she names train

Shropshire Star reader Toni Sian Williams enjoyed the red carpet treatment as she unveiled the nameplate on the train taking passengers on the direct route to London.

Shropshire Star winner Toni enjoys her VIP moment as she names train

Toni came up with the name The Wrekin Giant, which topped a poll in the paper. She pulled the curtain back at a ceremony at Shrewsbury station.

Passengers, community leaders and representatives from Virgin Trains gathered to mark the special occasion, which followed a hard-fought battle by those in the county and Virgin Trains to get the direct link reinstated.

Toni Sian Williams illustrated The Wellington Cobbler and The Wrekin Giant

One versionof the story goes that a giant called Gwendol Wrekin ap Shenkin ap Mynyddmawr with a grudge against the town of Shrewsbury decided to flood the town and kill all its inhabitants.

He collected a giant-sized spadeful of earth and set off towards the town but close to Wellington he met a cobbler returning from Shrewsbury market with a large sackful of shoes.

The giant asked the cobbler for directions, adding that he was going to dump his spadeful of earth in the River Severn and flood Shrewsbury.

"It's a very long way to Shrewsbury," replied the quick-thinking shoemaker. "Look at all these shoes I've worn out walking back from there!"

The giant immediately decided to abandon his enterprise and dumped the earth on the ground beside him, where it became the Wrekin.

The giant also scraped the mud off his boots, which became the smaller hill Ercall Hill.

Toni spoke of how "privileged" she felt to have won and to have chosen the Wrekin as the Shropshire landmark which would be seen across the UK.

She said: "It's amazing. I flew back from Belfast to be here today and it has really been worth it."

Mimes, jugglers and other entertainers gathered at the event to welcome passengers at the station.

The 27-year-old competition winner, of Lightmoor in Telford, received an impressive 676 votes for the suggestion in a Shropshire Star poll.

She was among a number of readers who believed The Wrekin Giant would be the perfect name

She said: "I was so excited to unveil the name, it is a real honour.

"Thanks to everyone who voted for it. The Wrekin is a very popular icon of our area and I'm proud that the name will be seen all over the country."

Toni admitted to being a little overwhelmed with the fuss being made of her at the ceremony at Shrewsbury Train Station.

She was even mentioned by Sir Richard Branson in a video message recorded to mark the occasion.

The 27-year-old, of Lightmoor in Telford, said: "The new rail service is a blessing and I will be one of the many business people to benefit from it."

Toni, who is a freelance illustrator, said she loved the story of The Wrekin Giant so much that she illustrated a book about the legend.

She said: "People adore the story. It's an ancient myth that belongs to Shropshire, it's well known by the people of Shropshire and is even talked about and learnt in local schools still today.

"In the story, Shrewsbury, Telford and Wellington are all mentioned and play a big part, and relates to the people of the county. This is where the story is set and where the giant travels through.

Toni Sian Williams names The Wrekin Giant with Phil Bearpark of Virgin Trains

"Also most people from Shropshire will speak of how seeing The Wrekin reminds them of coming 'home' from whatever adventure they may have been on, and it's true, its a very iconic feature."

She added: "The same aspect can be said about leaving Shropshire for the journey ahead.

"Most people will pass The Wrekin in many directions, so again its this theory of travel and home that only belongs to the people of Shropshire when they see The Wrekin."

Richard Stanton, of Virgin Trains, said: "Five strong choices and we are proud to unveil The Wrekin Giant as the name of the train."

The five shortlisted names included Evolution, Floreat Salopia, The Flying Salopian and Wilfred Owen.

Toni Sian Williams with Phil Bearpark of Virgin Trains
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