In Boxing Day's wake

It’s no secret that I love our waterways. I spend my days talking about them, looking at them, making plans for them and even finding more people to help look after them. This spans to my spare time too. I live right next to one, I spend my evenings, weekends, spare moments and even my lunch breaks next to them.

Volunteers clearing up after the flood Volunteers clearing up after the flood

But not so much as to have them in my house....

My Watery Neighh-bour

In the same way as I love my horse, she’s brilliant, I think the world of her, but not in my house. It would undoubtedly be a stressful affair for all parties. 

On Boxing Day 2015 my house flooded and it was indeed stressful and scary and crazy and mental and weird and cold and wet and smelly and emotional and dark and have I mentioned scary?!?


For anyone who has ever had to deal with a flood, I have a new respect for you on a whole other level. 

Same goes for all the guys and girls who turned out to help in all kinds of ways. From the professionals like my colleagues who gave up their christmas to the nice folk who lent a hand to neighbours, friends, families and total strangers. No amount of TV footage of people wading through water can quite prepare you for the barrage of weird emotional rollercoasteriness when water comes knocking on your door. For anyone who has been fortunate not to experience a flood, the water is part is quite bad...but what the TV can’t show you is the delightful leaving gift the river leaves behind which I have called ‘super-stinky-resid-eeeew.’    

In at the deep end

I am not the only person who loves their canals and rivers. As the new volunteer development coordinator I have been feeling the love from lots of people who want to help us get their waterways back on track so they can enjoy them once again. There have been armies of people turning out in droves which is really heart-warming (just please do tell us when you’re doing it so we can help!)

One bunch I was fortunate to get out and meet were students from Wakefield College who were helping out on the Aire & Calder. This is what they thought of lending a hand.

Soldiering on

Saturday the 23rd saw our first big call to action for the public to come and give us a hand on the badly battered Calder & Hebble at Elland lock.

We had all sorts happening, wall repair, towpath clearance of super-stinky-resideeew, vegetation and absolutely tons of litter clearance filling two skips in as many minutes! 

The day played host to a platoon of 40 junior soldiers, Richard Parry, our chief executive, Mark Penny, our regional partnership chair who brought his family along too - and I think my boss Jon Horsfall might have found a new calling as a dry stone waller extraordinaire.

Getting Buzzy

The buzz of the day was indescribable with over 100 people pitching in, getting muddy, families getting together and grafting like absolute troopers. 

A massive thank you to all who came, but this is just the start. For any of you who have been tried to walk/bike/run/boat/fish (insert other favourite use of canal here) you may have noticed there are still some unpassable sections, there’s still litter in the trees, bits of bank are missing, pontoons are bent in weird and wonderful artistic creations and in some places we are still a long way off ‘normal’. 

We shall rebuild!

If you would like to help out, take part in a clear up or know a group of people with your own ideas about how you think you can help then please do not hesitate to get in touch!  Add me on Facebook or Twitter as Canal & River Trust Becca Dent and follow the hashtag #CanalFloodAppeal.

Last date edited: 29 July 2016

About this blog

Becca, Volunteer Development

Becca came to work for the waterways in 2008 fresh from university. Since starting 7 years ago, Becca has turned her hand to a range of roles from local community projects to looking at angling development on a national scale. Most recently the Yorkshire lass has returned to her roots to continue to grow volunteer development in the North East region.

See more blogs from this author