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 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.

See our:

Council members

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

Elected representatives:

Boating business 

Heather Duncan

Profile to follow shortly

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 Operatios 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.

Carl is married and has two teenage boys.

Private boating

Tim Allen

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 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.

Volunteers

Ian McCarthy

Ian McCarthy

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 and 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.

Employees

John Ellis

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.

Friends

Stella Ridgway

Stella Ridgway

Stella was a continuous cruiser mostly on the northern canals until her dialysis. She is now living in the High Peak, having to give up the boat due to her and her husband's illnesses. 

She and her husband became Friends of the Trust as well as boaters because, as the great granddaughter of a fly boatman out of Middlewich, she believes that this way of life should be preserved, along with the Inland Waterways for now and future generations. 

She was a previous Council member representing private boaters, and previously worked in the public, hospitality sectors and finance sectors. 

Fisheries & Angling

David Kent

David Kent

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 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 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. He 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 K&A Canal. He is the author of six books including ‘The Secret Thames’ and a former Commodore of Henley Sailing Club.

Tracey Clarke

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.

Richard Atkinson, nominated by British Canoeing

Richard Atkinson

Richard is the National Policy Officer for British Canoeing (BC), having previously worked for the Environment Agency as recreation officer and regional principal officer for Recreation and Fisheries. He is qualified in ecology and management of the natural environment as well as fisheries management. Richard has experience in welcoming volunteers into British Canoeing. He is also working with Canal & River Trust/British Canoeing National Group to bring together a National Canoeing Development Plan. Richard was formerly a member of the North East Waterways Partnership until 2019.

Bwrdd Glandŵr Cymru

Nominated Representative and Profile to follow shortly

Jim Lamb, nominated by Chartered Institution of Water & Environmental Management (CIWEM)

Jim Lamb

Jim is a trustee of the Chartered Institution of Water & Environmental Management and chairs their Nominations and Ethics Committees.

He has worked as a chartered civil engineer in the water industry all of his career, initially constructing flood defences and river improvement schemes but as industry reorganisation and privatisation took place he worked at a senior level on business planning and performance and management practices. 

Following privatisation, Jim was appointed head of environment for the Severn Trent Group with responsibility for environmental policy and reporting for all of the companies in the Group. More recently, Jim has been an independent, international water and environmental consultant.

Tim West, nominated by Commercial Boat Operators Association

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 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.

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 Canal & River 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. 

Neil Edwards, nominated by the Inland Waterways Association (IWA)

Profile to follow shortly

Councillor Peter Thornton, nominated by the Local Government Association

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.

Gavin Atkins, nominated by MIND

Profile to follow shortly

Patrick Moss, nominated by the Railway & Canal Historical Society

Profile to follow shortly

Gemma Cantelo, nominated by The Ramblers 

Profile to follow shortly

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

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

Profile to follow shortly

Regional Advisory Board Chairs (ex officio) 

Anil Majithia, Chair East Midlands

With over 30 years of global business experience, Anil is a Leicestershire Local Enterprise Partnership board member and Chair of Voluntary Action Leicestershire. He is a Lay Council Member/Governor for the University of Leicester, Governor of North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College, Associate non-Executive Director of the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and a member of the Governance Committee for The Science Council.

Knighted in 2008 for services to education and community relations, Sir William is a Trustee of a number of charities including The Royal Shakespeare Company. He has advised government at both national and local levels and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London in 2017. 

 Professor Nigel Weatherill DLChair North West

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.

David Hagg

As Chief Executive of Stroud District Council, David's authority is leading the award-winning restoration of the Cotswold Canal. He has been a member of a wide range of regional and national bodies and was formerly Chair of the Trust's South Wales & Severn Waterway Partnership.

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.

Chair Yorkshire & North East - currently vacant

The work of the Council is supported by Tom Deards, Head of Legal & Governance Services and Company Secretary

Tom Deards

Last date edited: 24 September 2020