How One Man’s Love of Trains and Aeroplanes Left Us Speechless

Since its inception, Rovos Rail, with its striking steam engines and carriages, has puffed and whistled its way into the hearts of many people from all over the world. Lords and ladies, both rich and famous, have enjoyed the privilege of journeying in grand style on these much loved trains, and many of them hold the fondest memories of their journeys both in South Africa and further afield.

Some fortunate people have experienced the thrill of seeing these special trains, as they traverse the African landscape, and have felt inspired to take precious photographs or videos of the once-in-a-lifetime sightings. Similarly, all who take time to read this article to its end will have their hearts and minds inspired by the talent and perseverance of an exceedingly creative, visually impaired man who is passionate about Rovos Rail trains.

A Letter to Brenda Vos of Rovos Rail from Freddie Botha

In July 2015, Brenda Vos of Rovos Rail received a letter from Freddie Botha, the Executive Head of the Institute for the Blind in Worcester, which left her speechless. In the letter, Freddie told Brenda about Jacques Loftus, one of the partially sighted employees at the Institute who has an immense love for trains and aeroplanes. The previous week, Jacques had made an appointment to see Freddie, and when Jacques arrived at Freddie’s office carefully carrying what appeared to be a heap of pages, Freddie became curious.

A Heart-Warming Surprise!

Jacques laid down the pages on the ground and began joining them in a specific order. There were 54 A4 folios, which when joined, measured approximately 13m. When Freddie positioned himself to look at the sketches, he was thrilled at the surprise that lay before him. Jacques had sketched the magnificent Rovos train in such fine detail, a truly amazing achievement, which took him 3 months to complete. Freddie felt incredibly proud of Jacques, particularly knowing how he had to keep the pages very close to his eyes, owing to his extremely limited eyesight.


Man holding up sketches of the Rovos Train


13 meter train painting

Brenda’s Response to Freddie’s Letter about Jacques’s Sketches

Brenda’s heart was truly moved by Freddie’s inspiring letter about Jacques’s brilliant sketches of the Rovos train and carriages, admiring the huge effort he put into drawing them so perfectly over such a long time. Brenda shared this information with the management of Rovos Rail and they were delighted to host Jacques for lunch on board the train from Worcester to Cape Town and arranged for a complimentary transfer back to Worcester with a guest of his choice. He would board the train in Worcester on a Sunday afternoon and travel to Cape Town where he would be met by a transfer to take him and his guest back to Worcester.


Jacques’s Joyful Journey – A Dream Come True

Less than two weeks later, Jacques and his lovely girlfriend, Lelanie, boarded the Rovos train in Worcester for what was to be a joyful journey.

As Rovos Rail’s special guests, they were treated to a three-course meal, snacks, drinks and a tour of the train’s compartments. Jacques said it was an unbelievable experience and could not stop talking about how luxurious the train was and how delicious the food, snacks and drinks were. What really impressed Jacques and Lelanie was that the Rovos train is extremely well-equipped for people with visual or physical impairments.

We hope that Jacques, Freddie, Brenda and Rovos Rail will inspire you to achieve your special dream of train travel. Perhaps you too would love to journey across beautiful South Africa or Southern Africa on a Rovos train. Why wait?

Related Posts
The Traditional Arts and Crafts of Swaziland
Katavi, our new earth-friendly amenities
Meerlust, iconic South African wines
Rovos Rail welcomes an award-winning rum