The charity making life better by water

The Council

The Council is made up of up to 50 members and includes a mix of elected and independently nominated individuals together with the six Regional Advisory Board chairs, who are ex officio members.

Council members are the legal company members of the Canal & River Trust. They have responsibilities granted them by the Articles. Council members reflect the wide appeal of the waterways - from boating and angling through to walking and conservation. The Council is chaired by the chair of the Trust Board, David Orr CBE.

The Council is responsible for the appointment of trustees. It debates important points of principle to provide guidance and perspective from different stakeholders, suggesting issues of concern for the Trustees to pursue, and acts as a sounding board for the Trustees in relation to the development of proposals and strategy.

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Council members

Council members will serve for a period of four years. To contact nominated representatives or for general council enquiries, please email [email protected] and your enquiry will be passed on.

Elected representatives:

Boating business

Heather Hewitt

Heather Hewitt

Heather first found the canals whilst living in Hanwell, London at the tender age of 8 they became the countryside of her youth. Buying her first boat 10 years later to live on a mooring in Northolt.

Over the 40 years on the water, Heather has travelled the network widely working for British Waterways Fazeley with an electric boat, dredging the canals, running a pair of coal boats and as a youth worker she ran a number of camping boats and community boats.

Heather now works at the family's hire boat company, Union Canal Carriers in Braunston. There she enjoys welcoming new people to the waterways and is an active member of British Marine.

Carl Onens

carl onens

Carl is the managing director of ABC Leisure Group. He has a degree in economics from Birmingham City University and is a chartered management accountant.

Prior to joining ABC in 2006 Carl worked for several multi-million pound turnover international organisations. He joined ABC in 2006 as finance director, adding operations to his remit in 2011. As operations director, Carl was responsible for all areas of the business, including hire fleet, marina operations and boatbuilding.

Carl was appointed managing director in 2017 and has overseen the growth of ABC from 10 to 14 marinas.

Private boating

Tim Allen

Tim Allen, Elected Private Boating

Following early retirement as a technical manager, Tim and his wife currently operate an RYA Training Centre delivering instructor training and boat handling on the canals and rivers, having owned our boat since 1998.

Tim's other experience includes over 25 years with the Scout Association, currently on the Buckinghamshire county management team, and has active roles within Thrupp Canal Cruising Club and AWCC.

As a Roving Trader, Tim is looking to promote the interests of those that make a living from their boats on the network.

Helen Hutt

Helen Hutt, Private Boating, Photo

Helen was a boating novice when she bought Pipistrelle, a 57ft trad narrowboat, in 2005 and became a liveaboard/continuous cruiser. Since then she has travelled almost the whole UK network and, although intending to continue cruising Trust waters for many years to come, recently bought a mooring on the River Avon.

Now retired, Helen was a self-employed PR & Marketing consultant until 2010. She speaks fluent French, passable German and is learning Italian. Her favourite activities (apart from boating of course) are walking, skiing, tennis, sewing and cooking, and she is currently honorary treasurer of the National Association of Boat Owners.

Dave Mendes da Costa

Dave Mendes da Costa

When Dave first stepped onto his narrowboat Stellar in 2013, his keys fell out of his pocket and sank to the bottom of Bristol's floating harbour. Within minutes, he'd been lent a magnet, taught to tie a bowline and recovered his keys. This community spirit won him over to life on the water and he hasn't looked back since, taking Stellar around a large part of the network.

Dave spends much of his time around London, where he works in public policy, and has represented boaters through working with the National Bargee Travellers Association, chairing of the London branch in 2017. He is looking to use his time on the council to promote the wellbeing of boaters.

Phil Prettyman

Phil took his first canal trip in 1972 on a Willow Wren camping boat which he then bought. After much adventure boating (shallow pounds, low bridges, engine failures, rust and repair) they are still both around the system.

After retiring as headteacher of a large secondary school, Phil became chairman of the Historic Narrow Boat Club in 2006. He has played an active role with BW and now the Trust for which he campaigned during its establishment.

Until he moved to Cambridgeshire in 2014 he was a member of the Central Shires Waterway Partnership. Phil is also a member of the Trust's Joint Council & Trustees Appointments Committee.

Elderly man wearing blue jumper and jacket standing next to a canal on a cloudy day

Ian is a retired professional electrical engineer. He worked initially designing mainframe computers for ICL, he then founded several high-tech start-ups.

Ian has been an active canal volunteer since his early teens, firstly with the Peak Forest Canal Society, where he became an elected council member. He was actively engaged in forming the Waterway Recovery Group North West, being one of the original "Dirty Weekenders" and has been a "Paper Chaser", collecting waste paper to fund WRG NW, for more than 30 years.

He applied to become a British Waterways volunteer lock keeper in 2011 helping to look after boaters on the Rochdale Canal, particularly the Manchester 18. He is also part-owner of historic wooden narrow boat, Spey, which he has helped to operate and maintain for over 40 years. Ian is also a member of the Trust's Joint Council & Trustees Appointments Committee.

David Williams

Picture of a Trust council member in a life jacket

A teacher at David's school, who was wildly enthusiastic about canals and a boat trip with friends in 1978 led David into a “lifetime's passion” for the inland waterways. Work then took him to Wiltshire, where a not quite fully restored Kennet & Avon Canal provided opportunities for walking, taking photographs and the odd glass of beer in waterside pubs. Meanwhile, boat trips; once or twice a year; racked up the miles until the blue line on the map covered a large swathe of UK and European waterways.

Early retirement gave him the opportunity to become a volunteer lock keeper at Caen Hill and to work for a local boat hire company; perhaps helping new youngsters to discover a similar passion for the inland waterways.

John Ellis

John is a fisheries graduate with over 30 years experience in the field of fisheries and environmental management.

Following spells in academia and the water industry, he joined British Waterways in 1988 as fisheries manager south, advancing to the role of fisheries & environmental manager South in 1993.

In 2009, John took over the role of national fisheries & angling manager. His other interests include horticulture, science education and the history and heritage of Ethiopia.

Fisheries & Angling

David Kent

David Kent with catch at Boddington

David has been an angler for over 60 years. He champions the value of angling as a sport and recreation, its value across the social spectrum especially in terms of people's wellbeing, the opportunities it provides for young people, the contribution it can make to the stewardship and promotion of the waterways for all and in generating revenue for the local economy and the Trust. David believes the ongoing improvement and development of our canal fisheries is absolutely key to all of this.

He spent 32 years in the water industry with the Trent River Authority, Severn Trent Water Authority and finally with Severn Trent Water Ltd as a manager, Financial/Business Systems. Taking early retirement in 1998 he then became manager of the East Midlands Business and Environment Club whose role was to promote environmental awareness and discipline in businesses.

David has been an administrator at local, regional and national level for more than 50 years. In November 2018 he stepped down after three terms as a director of Angling Trust. He is a life member of AT and in 2019 was made a lifetime vice president. He remains chair of AT's National Freshwater Committee and its Trent Regional Forum. He is also an AT consultant on Competitions. He was a member of the former BW Advisory Forum and Fisheries & Angling Committee. David chaired the Trust's National Angling Advisory Group from 2012 until 2017. He remains a member of that group.

Co-opted members

Louis Howell, co-opted member Youth

Louis Howell

Louis Howell is a dynamic and rounded professional with experience that pans the voluntary youth sector, education sector and the world of small business. Today, he runs a marketing transformation company, co-runs an educational social enterprise and is a trustee and volunteer at two small London-based charities.

His work with the Canal & River Trust began when he worked on the Action Squad's Programme, headed up by NCVYS, which engaged and supported young people in social action across the canal network. This partnership, combined with the fantastic relationship maintained with the team since then, has seen Louis come back regularly to train the Trust's staff and volunteers on the most effective ways of engaging and working with young people. Louis is the chair of the Trust's Youth Engagement Advisory Group.

Duncan Mackay, co-opted member, Environment

Duncan Mackay Environment Photo

Duncan Mackay led Natural England's advisory work on urban, GI, Walking for Health and was its relationship manager for the Trust. He is on the Council of the National Trust, a trustee of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and a fellow of the Landscape Institute.

Duncan also volunteers on the Trust's Environmental Advisory Group. In 1989 he was responsible for the designation of the Thames Path. In the 1990s he was part of the successful £29 million bid to the NHMF for the restoration of the Kennet & Avon Canal. He is the author of six books including ‘The Secret Thames' and a former commodore of Henley Sailing Club.

Tracey Clarke

Tracey Clarke and her support dog

Tracey, aka “The Blind Boater”, is a liveaboard continuous cruiser and licensed roving trader.

Hailing from Sussex, where she married Tim, she has always been very active in community work, including serving as a Parish councillor for many years.

Since moving afloat in 2014, Tracey has discovered that life is “Better by Water”. More recently, she has been working with the Trust including creating ‘IWAF - Inland Waterways Accessibility Forum' on Facebook.

Tracey's primary aim is to work with the Trust to make the waterways as safe and suitable as possible (given constraints of heritage) for those who are less able.

Nominated representatives:

Andrew Phasey, Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs

Andrew Phasey

Following retirement from military service in 2005, Andrew was a boat safety scheme examiner for nine years. He is currently a royal yachting association instructor and a trainer and assessor for the IWA Certificate of Boat Management.

Andrew and his wife Frances have been narrow boat owners and enthusiastic cruisers for over 20 years, and have organised many convoy cruises on London's waterways.

Andrew's representative service has included the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs (Technical Officer), chair of the RYA Inland Navigation Panel, the Boat Safety Scheme Technical and Management Committees, and chair of the Management Committee of St Pancras Cruising Club. Andrew is a member of the Trust's Joint Council & Trustees Appointments Committee.

Ben Seal, nominated by British Canoeing

Ben Seal

Ben is Head of Access & Environment at British Canoeing, leading the Clear Access, Clear Waters Campaign. Ben leads on political engagement and policy. Ben's team are responsible for environmental education, volunteer action as well as publishing trails and information on places to paddle. As a passionate advocate for adventurous activities and father of 2 young sons, Ben has coached and led groups in the outdoors for over 15 years. Ben has been a Trustee of a number of small charities and spent 2 terms on the West Midlands CRT Partnership when it was first formed.

Terry Fuller, Chartered Institution of Water & Environmental Management (CIWEM)

Terry Fuller

Terry is Chief Executive of CIWEM responsible for the delivery of the Institution's strategic aims and its services to members and the public interest. He has over 30 years' experience as a water and environmental manager having delivered major projects in some of the world's most beautiful and challenging locations. Previously, Terry managed the rivers and coastal business for Jacobs Engineering and worked in their global business development group.

Terry is a member of CIWEM and has served the Institution on the committee of CIWEM's Rivers and Coastal Group between 2004 and 2011 and was chair during its 60th anniversary year in 2009. He has also served as a Board Trustee.

Terry has always been active in helping to influence policy and research, exemplified through representing CIWEM and the Institution of Civil Engineers at several conferences including an international conference on adaptation to climate change, held in China and a joint conference with The American Society for Civil Engineers held in Canada. Terry firmly believes that water should be managed by considering the entire water cycle and all demands placed on water.

Tim West, nominated by Commercial Boat Operators Association

Tim west

Tim is a director and Company Secretary of Wynns Group of companies. Wynns Group comprises of Wynns Ltd, the UK's leading provider of independent advice on the movement of abnormal indivisible loads and Robert Wynn & Sons Ltd who own and operate a fleet of specialist heavy lift barges for the movement of the largest and heaviest abnormal indivisible loads, operating in and around the UK and Europe.

He is currently vice chairman of both the Heavy Transport Association and the Commercial Boat Operators Association, and an active member of the Freight Transport Association's Waterborne Freight & Strategic Freight Councils and the UK Chamber of Shipping Short Sea Panel. He's an active member of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce having been president of the Stafford Chamber of Commerce and a Staffordshire Chambers Board member for over a decade.

Mark Riches, nominated by Country Land & Business Association

Mark Riches, CLA - photo

Mark is the director for the Midlands Region of the CLA and leads the CLA Midlands team.

A graduate of Harper Adams and the University of Birmingham, he is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and previously worked in rural estate management and property and business assets management and development. He is also a fellow of the Agricultural Law Association and was voted onto the Association's Governing Council in 2017.

Mark has been involved with historic narrowboats and the canal network his whole life and both he and his wider family have significant involvement with the inland waterways.

Nigel Crowe, nominated by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation


Dr Nigel Crowe holds qualifications in historic conservation and architectural history and has worked in the heritage field for over 30 years. After working for English Heritage in the 1980s, he joined British Waterways as its first heritage officer and became head of heritage both for BW and then the Trust. He is still involved with waterways heritage and is supporting the securing of England's first nationwide Listed Building Consent Order, which he pioneered for the Trust.

He is the author of the 'English Heritage Book of Canals', has published numerous articles relating to heritage management and conservation and is a member of the IHBC's Editorial Board. He has scripted and presented several waterway heritage films on YouTube including one about War on the Waterways.

Sophie Gordon, nominated by Cycling UK

Sophie Gordon

Sophie is a campaigns officer at national charity, Cycling UK (formerly known as the Cyclists' Touring Club). Her role focuses on increasing access for off-road cycling by building relationships with land managers and developing promoted recreational routes. She is a firm believer that having safe, traffic-free places to cycle, such as those managed by the Trust, is key to enable people to gain confidence and explore new places, while improving their health and wellbeing.

Having studied Geography at university, Sophie also has a keen interest in the environmental health of rivers and waterways, and often volunteers with local conservation organisations.

Jonathan Smith, nominated by the Inland Waterways Association (IWA)

Jonathan Smith

Jonathan has been a keen boater all his life on his parents' boat. He has been a member of the Inland Waterways Associations for over 30 years, and has served as a Trustee for IWA for several years. Most recently he was interim CEO of the Inland Waterways Association in 2022.

He started volunteering with Waterway Recovery Group in 1989 and has worked on restoration projects across the UK. Jonathan has been a director of WRG for many years and is currently its Deputy Chair. Recently retired, Jonathan owned a project management business specialising in healthcare infrastructure projects in developing countries.

Councillor Peter Thornton, nominated by the Local Government Association

Peter Thornton, LGA Photo

Peter is the deputy leader of Cumbria County Council and former leader of South Lakeland District Council with it's headquarters in Kendal, at the end of the Lancaster Canal - which he hopes will eventually be restored.

He has a share in an ex-ownership boat, Sunseeker, and enjoys a month or so on the canals each year. It would be more if he didn't have the finance portfolio at his Council, he's very used to the concept of ever trying to do more, with less!

Peter will be asking questions about how we will be tackling the challenges of climate change and control pollution in built-up areas. He does love his diesel engine and looks forward to lighting Sunseeker's stove but is very aware of impending legislation.

He's also, predictably, interested in the issue of council tax for liveaboards and the other side of the coin, the provision of social care and health services for boaters.

Vacant, nominated by MIND

Patrick Moss, nominated by the Railway & Canal Historical Society

Profile to follow shortly

Graeme McDonald, nominated by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)

Graeme McDonald SOLACE Photo

Graeme McDonald is managing director of Solace and Solace in Business and is responsible for the overall strategic direction and management of the organisation.

Prior to joining Solace, Graeme had spent over fifteen years working in local government. He has worked for London Borough, Metropolitan and District councils; his final role was as the director of policy and performance at the London Borough of Ealing. He also has experience in roles within social care, housing and environmental services, as well as a range of corporate and change management roles.

Graeme focuses on leadership development; influencing policy across central government and ensuring the very best of the sector is shared and built upon. He is particularly keen to develop the sector's long term leadership capabilities and has developed a number of programmes aimed at firmly embedding high quality professional leadership in local public services.

Joe Porter, nominated by Step Up To Serve

Joe Porter

Joe is a district & parish councillor for Brown Edge & Endon in the Staffordshire Moorlands. He is the cabinet member for climate change at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. He sits as a member of the Staffordshire Moorlands Safer Neighbourhood Panel and is a trustee of the Rudyard Lake Trust.

He is a member of the LGBT+ Conservative General Council and has championed the youth sector for over five years with UK Youth, the British Youth Council and the #iwill Campaign. He represented the UK at the Commonwealth Youth Forum.

Joe has a degree in Marketing & Politics from Keele University. Outside of politics, Joe loves baking, gardening, running and pottery painting.

Ali Morse, nominated by The Wildlife Trusts

ali morse

Ali has worked in a variety of water-related roles throughout her 15+ year career in nature conservation. As water policy manager at The Wildlife Trusts she supports action to protect, restore and manage freshwater and wetland habitats. She is chair of Blueprint for Water, a coalition of environmental NGOs that speak with a common voice on water policy issues.

Having studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Southampton, Ali has Hampshire's delightful chalk rivers on her doorstep, and considers waterways to be hugely important for both biodiversity and people. She is keen to help the Canal & River Trust identify opportunities to further enhance the water quality, biodiversity and engagement opportunities across this fantastic national resource.

Heather Clatworthy, nominated by Ramblers Association

Heather Clatworthy

Heather is Paths Manager (GB) for Britains leading walking charity - The Ramblers. Along with managing the core Paths team of staff at headquarters and the extensive network of Volunteers, she is responsible for the HQ operational and strategic delivery of Ramblers Path Protection, Improvement and Maintenance and the popular Don't Lose Your Way Campaign. Heather offers 17 years of experience working in the charitable, environmental and voluntary sectors and is an active philanthropist supporting charities and individuals who are keen to help make a positive difference to peoples lives. She has worked in Rights of Way and public access for over 15 years and has led many large scale projects requiring collaboration with varied stakeholders to deliver public access for people to enable access to the great outdoors.

Heather has represented The British Horse Society on the Canal & River Trust user forum for almost 15 years. Heather also works extensively with GIS to map public access and uses it to measure impact, prioritise core work and to locate and display problematic areas and to view and analyse case work on a national basis.

Steve is the former chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), a position he held for 14 years until the end of 2018. As chief executive of the WLGA, he developed strong connections across Welsh Government and brings an unrivalled understanding of Welsh Local Government, together with knowledge of the wide range of programmes and policies which will influence and impact the Trust's work in Wales.

Steve has also held a number of voluntary roles which align with the work of the Trust in Wales, including chairing the Prince's Trust for Wales for five years.

Anil Majithia, Chair East Midlands Regional Advisory Board (2)

Anil is experienced chair, non-executive director and trustee with significant board level experience. He currently holds portfolio of board positions, including being non-executive director at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, chair of GEH Charity, vice chair of The Air Ambulance Service, non-executive director at LLEP, as well as vice chair at North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College.

He also brings with him more than 30 years leadership experience at senior levels within commercial environments accountable for delivering major technology and business change transformations for international clients in numerous different industry sectors (utilities, banking, insurance, consumer goods, transport and public sector).

Sir Peter Dixon

Sir Peter is a sailor, motor boater, canoeist, paddle boarder, runner, walker and bird watcher and brings a wide range of skills and experience at executive and board level. He has a background in the housing, health and charitable sectors and is Chair of Optivo Housing Group and Flint Housing Ltd. He is also President of the English Rural Housing Association and is a Trustee at the National Parks Foundation. His previous roles include Chair of Diabetes UK, Chair of the Broads Authority planning committee and Chair of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He was knighted in 2009 for services to housing. Involved in the battle to save City Road Basin in Islington from development in the 1970s, he continues to volunteer as a waterways ranger as well as teaching sailing to children as an RYA instructor.

Nigel Weatherill Chair North West Regional Advisory Board

After graduating in mathematics, Nigel's first job was as mathematician in the Research Team of Anglian Water Authority. He has held senior positions in the UK at Swansea (1986-2008), Birmingham (2008-2011) and Liverpool John Moores (Vice-Chancellor 2011-2018). He has held positions around the world, including Adjunct Professor at the US National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centre, Mississippi State University and Scientist-in-Residence, Singapore. He has had national responsibilities, including executive director of the National Higher Education STEM Programme for England and Wales. He chaired the Commission on Environmental Sustainability for the mayor of Liverpool.

Until recently, Nigel was the honorary colonel of the Liverpool University Officer Training Corps, a board member of the CBI North West Regional Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership for the Liverpool City Region. He is a member of the Arts Council (North). He was appointed chair of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in 2015 and chair of the Royal Court Liverpool in 2018. Nigel is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications and a companion of the Chartered Management Institute.

He is a chartered mathematician, chartered engineer and chartered scientist. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society of the Arts, an honorary fellow of Swansea University and an honorary member of the Liverpool Medical Institution.

In April 2016 Nigel was commissioned as a deputy lieutenant of Merseyside. In March 2018 he was elected an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple, in July 2018 was made an honorary friend of Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and in October 2018 was recognized as an honorary fellow of the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

John Hudson OBE Chair West Midlands Regional Advisory Board

John was an apprentice with BSA Motorcycles in Birmingham, obtaining a Masters degree in production engineering and moved to Morphy Richards Ltd in Doncaster becoming its MD.

After qualifying as a chartered engineer he joined the Delta group and eventually became MD of their Fluid Controls division in West Bromwich. He moved to Telford to become CEO of Wagon Group plc for 10 years and since then has been CEO/chair of private equity-backed businesses and served for 10 years each on the boards of two listed PLCs as a non-executive director.

He served as president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, chair of the West Midlands Industrial Development Board and was chair of Birmingham Airport for 20 years. He was awarded an OBE in 2003 and is a deputy lieutenant for the West Midlands, was High Sheriff of the West Midlands 2017/8 and holds an honorary doctorate.

Helen Grantham

Helen is a lawyer by profession and has worked for many years on the Executive of large, listed companies and complex organisations across a range of industries and during times of significant organisational change. She has many years of board level experience as well as of multi-stakeholder environments. She is currently Group Secretary and General Counsel at the Co-op Group with responsibilities covering legal, governance, risk, audit and public affairs and campaigns.

She is passionate about ensuring everyone can meet their full potential and ensuring diverse and inclusive environments. She also has a keen interest in education and learning and is a Council member at University of Leeds, where she was an undergraduate. She is also part of the Leeds Law School mentoring programme.

She is a keen walker (often accompanied by her dog, Walter) as well as having an interest in our heritage and countryside. She has a strong connection to Yorkshire and the North East having been born, educated and living in the region for much of her life.

Tom Deards

Man in jumper posing for photo on a canal towpath on a sunny day with green trees surrounding

The work of the Council is supported by Tom Deards, Legal & Governance Director

Upcoming Meetings:

Last Edited: 05 September 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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