A MODEL railway designer from Taunton has been combining his hobby with fund-raising to help charities close to his heart.

John Langley, 69, said he has always been fascinated by model railways and started to build and design his own models around five years ago once he retired.

John, a retired nurse, lives with his wife, Ann, 72, and has raised a staggering £23,000 for charities including SURE.

He said: “I love being able to bring history to life, and it’s great to see people’s reactions when they look at the models and remember what the old trains and wagons used to look like.

“My wife and I have suffered from cancer and there are very few families where cancer hasn’t touched their lives.

“I take my hat off to them for the work they do, so I try to raise a little bit of money to help.”

John is a member of Burnham and District Model Railways Club, does his research on trains and then designs a model which he sends to a company in Wales to build.

The trains are then sold for prices between £10-15 and profits go to a number of charities across the South of England.

Most recently, John sold models of a Wiseman Dairies wagon which raised £600 for SURE and then presented the charity with a further £563 from the profits of his Lamb Brewery.

All John’s models are to a 00 scale which means every 4mm on a model is equivalent to one foot of a real-life machine.

In his five years designing and building, John has notched up an impressive 158 different models and he has another five designs in the making for next year.

John said: “It can be almost a 40-hour week but I really enjoy it and when you get chance to present some money to the charities it is a great feeling.”

A SURE spokesman thanked John for all his efforts and said the charity was extremely grateful.