We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Scheme

Historic Narrowboats set sail for another year of Gold Awards D of E Residential Courses

We are donating £2,000 to support the work of the Coombeswood Canal Trust and their involvement with the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award scheme along the regions canals.

Based in Halesowen, the Coombeswood Canal Trust are preparing for another year of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential courses and, the money donated by us will be used to help buy materials, equipment and provide supervision for the course.  

As part of the five day course young people from across the country will have the opportunity to live on board two heritage narrowboats, Atlas and Malus. The two boats, which are jointly owned by the Birmingham Canal Navigation Society, are kitted out for each expedition.

Traditional boat skills

Whilst on board the students will take part in a range of activities to help improve canals across Birmingham and the Black Country. They learn a range of traditional boat skills such as steering, locking, bow hauling, rope work and sheeting the boats. Through a collaboration with The Black Country Living Museum the students perform some voluntary work in exchange for a chance to explore the museum. They also have the opportunity to have a go at ‘legging’ through the limestone caverns at Dudley Canal Trust.

Peter Matthews CMG, chair of West Midlands Waterways Partnership said we were keen to support the project: “The residential course is a fantastic way of getting young people to experience what our historic waterways have to offer and what better fun is there than being out on the canal, exploring the waterways, learning new skills and making lifelong friends.”

Working as a team

Mick Cowles, Youth Project Co-ordinator at Coombeswood Canal Trust said ‘one of the most important skills the young people will learn will be working together as a team. Working together and living aboard at such close quarters means that students soon get to know one another. The course helps to ensure that traditional boat skills are passed on to the next generation. Our grant will help to support the courses for the next 12 months.

Richard Woodward, Chairman of Coombeswood Canal Trust went on to say ‘to our knowledge there is no other course like it in the country'.

However, there are ongoing costs to running the project. The historic narrow boats need constant maintenance and there are always materials to buy. We are in the process of applying for ongoing funding, perhaps sponsorship from local businesses, to ensure that we can keep the project running.

The courses are one of the cheapest DofE Gold Residential courses making it accessible to more young people. In cases of particular hardship the cost of the course can be fully covered by a bursary from Coombeswood Canal Trust.

Last date edited: 16 February 2016