Dawn Brightwell

“Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist.” – Guy de Maupassant

Earlier this year, I lost a good friend to cancer.

I met Dawn Brightwell many years ago when we both lived in southern Ontario. We were both interested in garden-scale live steam, and we enjoyed each other’s company. When she moved back to the United States several years later, we stayed in touch. Social media makes that easy, and we would exchange quick “How ya doin’?” updates several times per year. Through that, our friendship grew.

Dawn was smart, curious, funny. She was positive: She put a brave face on her cancer – even when the treatments were no longer effective. Above all, she was kind. Even so, I didn’t truly appreciate how important she was to me as a friend until I received the email that I knew would come – informing me that that Dawn had passed on.

I was looking for an appropriate way to honour our friendship, and decided that naming one of my live steam locomotives after Dawn would be suitable.

This 7/8″ scale Decauville is my first “named” live steam locomotive.

I ordered a pair of custom plates – manufactured by MDC and marketed by Rhos Helyg Locomotive Works in the UK. This was my first time acquiring plates and the process went very smoothly.

When the plates arrived, I created a quick alignment fixture from some scrap styrene and – following the enclosed instructions – attached them to the sides using clear silicone window caulking.

I wasn’t crying: It must’ve been fumes from the caulking.

Friendships are important in this hobby. For most of us – including me – they’re more important than the trains themselves. The trains are merely the “social lubricant” that brings us together and gets the conversations flowing. Honouring those hobby friends who are no longer with us is important.

I wrote about this in the August, 2022 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. My copy arrived in the post today, and there must still be some fumes in the air from all that caulking…

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

5 thoughts on “Dawn Brightwell

  1. An excellent and appropriate tribute to a fallen friend. It was also good to see in the RMC article that my friend Jim Brown was recognized by the Ontario Southland.

    Liked by 1 person

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