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

Volunteering Advisory Group

Volunteers have a long history of involvement with the management and maintenance of waterways and their contribution is important to their future.

Volunteering by the canal Volunteering by the canal

Engaging more closely with communities is critical to the success of Canal & River Trust. A key tenet of this engagement is through volunteering. The Volunteering Advisory Group brings together both the volunteering and waterways sectors to understand more fully the wider volunteering context, the Trust's strategic approach and best practice in the process of managing volunteers.

The Advisory Group also helps to ensure that the Trust fully understands the implications of proposed policy changes or particular issues that are relevant to volunteers.

The group helps the Trust's executive with volunteering issues of significance, especially those that may be innovative or controversial.


Dame Hilary Blume
Dame Hilary Blume (made a Dame in 2008 for services to the charity sector) founded the Charities Advisory Trust in 1979. The Trust’s work has been innovative, and includes Card Aid, the Good Gifts Catalogue, the Scrooge Awards, Peace Oil and Knit for Peace. The Trust famously organised the first re-cycling of the Chelsea Flower Show, and set up the Green Hotel in Mysore, India which gives all its profits to charity in India.  She has written six books, providing practical guidance on charity fund-raising and income generation.

Hilary has a canal boat, and is a member with her husband, Prof Michael Norton, of both the St Pancras and Thrupp Canal Cruising Clubs. She is known for her pragmatism, her problem solving and straight talking. She is irrepressibly entrepreneurial.

Maryanne Burton
Maryanne has been Head of Volunteering at the British Red Cross since 2005. Her role includes setting policy and direction of travel for over 22,000 volunteers who provide services with a diverse range of skills. Maryanne promotes the benefit of volunteers at every opportunity and sits on the board of various Volunteering Advisory Groups. Maryanne is a fully trained delegate on the British Red Cross Psycho-social Support Register, whose purpose is to extend the provision of support and assistance given to individuals affected by emergencies abroad. She is also the Red Cross nominated Trustee with the Defence Medical Welfare Service, who provide welfare support to injured service people and their families. In her spare time, Maryanne enjoys reading, opera, travelling and cooking. 

Gennie Dearman
Gennie is the director, Programmes & Employee Volunteering Business in the Community and has worked within the field of corporate social responsibility for nine years. With a background in project management she joined BUPA’s CSR team in 2004. In August 2013 Gennie became regional director of the Engineering Development Trust (EDT).

Mike Elliott
Mike is the operations director at the Cats Protection League. Until recently he was assistant director for Volunteering and Community Involvement at the National Trust.

Dominic Higgins
Dominic leads on Policy for The Conservation Volunteers (TCV). Prior to joining, he worked for the Department for Education and Skills, providing strategic support to their flagship youth volunteering programme ‘Millennium Volunteers’. He sits on the board of the Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD).

Previously, he worked for the training and volunteering organisation, i-to-i, initially developing their training courses, before moving on to lead their international volunteering programme and crisis response team. Away from work, he is a keen amateur musician and reformed rugby player turned coach.

Alex Nicholson-Evans
Alex is the commercial development manager for the Birmingham Museums Trust and formerly worked in volunteer development for the same organisation. Before moving into the museums sector, Alex’s background was in medical sales and healthcare. Alex now sits as vice chair on the Heritage Volunteering Group and volunteers for girlguiding UK in her spare time.

Mike Palmer
Mike is an Inland Waterways Association trustee and waterway recovery group chairman

Rebecca Stewart
Rebecca is currently the Head of Volunteering for Age UK – one of the largest not for profit organisations dedicated to helping everyone love later life.  Age UK has around 75,000 astonishing volunteers, and her team endeavours to provide every one of those supporters with brilliant and safe volunteering experiences. Rebecca is a former global brand marketer, working with brands including Bendicks; Starbucks; Guinness and Baileys.

She has volunteered for the last four years as a judge for the Off West End awards, and has also been a Committee member for a London swimming club.  Her enthusiasm for immersing herself in British waterways is one of the reasons why she’s especially delighted to be part of the Canal & River Trust Volunteering Advisory Group.

Jon Stopp
Jon is a former managing director Business Consultancy Trustee Citizens Advice Bureau, trustee and chair Cuerdon Valley Park (operations board), Sustrans ranger and Lancashire Countryside ranger. Member of the Manchester & Pennine Waterways Partnership.

Edward Moss
National volunteering manager at Canal & River Trust

Graeme Haines
Canal & River Trust employee representative (UNITE)

Caroline Killeavy  
Head of community engagement at Canal & River Trust

Last date edited: 26 July 2016