AS a five-year-old Sally Wilson was allowed to sit in the driver’s seat of a Blackpool tram as a reward for her charity fundraising.
Twenty two years later she is set for another tram milestone when she joins other competition winners as the resort’s £100m new tram service is launched tomorrow.
Transport minister Norman Baker will officially cut the ribbon before the 40 golden ticket winners step aboard.
Sally will be joined by her dad Martin on the maiden passenger trip from Starr Gate to Fleetwood.
Martin also has a special link with the trams – he has penned a book about them called Coronation Cars.
Sally, 27, a youth and community worker of Davenport Avenue, Bispham, said: “When I was five, I swam 1,000 metres to raise money for the hospice in Bispham.
“I raised more than £1,000 and was rewarded with driving one of Blackpool’s trams. I was under strict supervision in the driver’s seat in the depot.
“My dad had always had an interest in the trams, even writing a book about them, and we’re both really excited about being on the first one.
“I think it would be a travesty if the trams were taken away from Blackpool.
“It’s great to see the new trams but I am glad they are retaining some of the heritage vehicles as well.”
Sally and Martin are among the winners of 20 pairs of golden tickets for the VIP voyage tomorrow.
The give-away, which included five pairs of tickets for Gazette readers who entered our competition, was designed to ensure residents had chance to be a part of the historic occasion.
The first fare-paying passengers will then board from Wednesday as the Bombardier Flexity trams start operating the new commuter service. The upgrade, which began after funding was secured in 2008, has seen the track replaced, a new £20m depot built at Starr Gate and 16 Bombardier trams built.
The first of the new trams arrived in the resort last September for testing.
A fleet of heritage trams will continue to operate during the main holiday season as part of Blackpool’s tourism work.
Mr Baker said: “Blackpool has a long and proud history of tram use, indeed, its tramway is among the oldest in the world.
“We want to ensure that the future of tram use in the town is even brighter and that is why I was happy to give £68m towards this fantastic project.
“Blackpool’s trams are absolutely on the right track.”