Volunteers from waterways charity recieve recognition

Heritage Working Boat out and about on the canals in Birmingham

Waterways and wellbeing charity Canal & River Trust, together with Marsh Charitable Trust, is pleased to announce volunteers in the West Midlands who have been recognised in its annual volunteer awards.

This year the canal charity celebrates its tenth anniversary of protecting and preserving 2,000 miles of historic waterways across England and Wales, 520 miles in the West Midlands The awards celebrate volunteer excellence and, to mark a decade of charitable care, this year include an extra category to recognise a volunteer in each region who has been volunteering with the Canal & River Trust since its inception.

Awards are being given to teams and individuals across the Canal & River Trust’s network of waterways and reflect the fantastic range of volunteering that takes place.

Heritage Working Boats volunteers, based in Birmingham, received the team award. Some of the team volunteers have been with the Trust for more than 15 years.  These are a dedicated team of volunteers who care for four Heritage Working Boats that showcase the rich history of the region’s waterways and attend events all over the West Midlands region.

From looking after the boats, refreshing paintwork, and maintaining these historic vessels, the team do extensive works to make sure they are in prime condition to attend events over the year.

Friendly and welcoming, they seek to involve all communities and individuals of all ages   and are a real asset and represent the Trust in a positive light.  Some of the volunteers entertain the children with their stories and are not opposed to dressing up as a canal boat people for the full effect, if needed!

The team have worked closely with the Roundhouse Birmingham, a joint initiative between the Canal & River Trust and National Trust, providing the boats as an exhibit and undertaking guided trips around Birmingham city’s canals, shining a light the 250 year old heritage along the Birmingham Canal navigations. The team are involved in many events and activities and took this year part a number of key activities from carrying the Queen’s Baton Relay batonbearer through the heart of the city, to Trustees visits, Commonwealth Games launches and opportunities, Boating Parades, VIP and MP visits, and even carried King Charles III,  when he visited Coventry UK 2021 City of Cultures in his previous role as the Prince of Wales, and patron of the Canal & River Trust.

Heritage Working Boat Volunteers are: Peter Ashford, Terry Bayliss, Joan Blackley, Gordon Blackmore, Heather Blackmore, Don Bull, Nick Catling, Allen Drummond, Rich Greenhall, Colin Griffiths, Karol Griffiths, Mike Groves, Chris Hutton-Ashkenny, Rob Manning, Jon Pegg, Jeff Steele, Mick Stephenson, Richard Toogood, George Wiggin, Vince Williams, Roger Woods, Clive Monk, Paul Clarke, Glyn Phillips, Rosemary Phillips, Di Solomanson, David Williams,

Individual Award winner Lawrence Rakic volunteers in Stourport. Lawrence started volunteering in 2013 at Bratch Locks, before moving to volunteer in Stourport. A committed and enthusiastic volunteer, he gives up five days of his week to the Trust and to date has built up over 2,500 hours! He leads a team (although refuses to acknowledge the role he plays) and has built up an effective grass management team, taking care of over 8.500 square meters of grass.

A fantastic communicator, he supports and mentors new volunteers, engages with public and boaters alike, and is a highly respected and valued volunteer with the Trust staff and volunteers in Stourport. Jon Horsfall, Acting Regional Director for the West Midlands at Canal & River Trust said:

“Our volunteers make a tremendous contribution to the West Midlands waterways, bringing their skills, enthusiasm, and experience to a vast array of activities and tasks and enabling us to keep the canals open and available for people to use and enjoy.

"These awards showcase the range of their talents and celebrate their enthusiasm, passion, and sheer hard work. They are an inspiration and I offer my congratulations to them all."


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