Our new friend Anja, and other volunteering tales
One of the best parts of our roles is the variety of people that we get to meet and the places we go to. This month was no exception – so I will be bringing you tales from the river, the dry land and the mud in between (that would be the Crick Boat Show then…).
I hope last month’s cliff hanger has brought you back for more – well, what an adventure we have to share with you. Rebecca and I were fortunate enough to be able to take part in the Boating Buddies scheme last month, which saw us join two local boaters to find out about life on the inland waterways. There was no question of us drawing any short straw, as we were able to join Colin and Judy aboard their stunning Dutch barge, Anja, departing Redhill Marina in the East Midlands. And to top it all, the sun was shining all day….
Boating Buddies has been set up to enable mainly office based staff to get out and about and connect with our customers – this is a luxury that the bank side staff have, but all too often office staff don’t have the chance to meet the variety of people enjoying the waterways. I think that this is a great shame, and so we were delighted to be asked aboard Anja for the day.
A proud Dutch lady originally built near Groningen in North Holland in 1929 (she worked in Rotterdam and Amsterdam in her career carrying fuel tanks before being converted), she is now enjoying a peaceful retirement on the River Soar where she cuts an elegant dash. I don’t know what the biggest surprise of the day was, the fact there is a full size sofa onboard, or Colin offering us the chance to steer Anja on the return to Redhill!
This is certainly an experience that we won’t forget, and we are both exceptionally grateful to Colin and Judy for sharing their boat and time with us, their incredible patience when explaining the delicate art of lock operation (Rebecca had never used locks before this trip) and also the endless cups of tea that we shared. It was a perfect day.
For every yin there is a yang, and my overriding memory of this year’s Crick Boat Show is mud. I think it rained all day, even dogs were wearing rain ponchos which brought a smile to our faces. I must thank our fabulous volunteers for attending and all they did – Gill, Ray and Graham made endless bird boxes on the day I was there (even encouraging our Chief Exec Richard to have a go!), Judi and Keith chatted to potential volunteers, and Kevin and Taryn were excellent as roving photographers over the full three days. I know there were many more people who attended on different days, so thank you all. Let’s hope that the sun shines on the event in 2015…
Other high points this month have included a visit to the Docklands office to meet with Patricia, our new engineering volunteer who is carrying out some research on the Docklands walls construction (we have been exchanging emails for the last six months, so it was great to finally meet!) and a visit to Standedge Tunnel, the longest canal tunnel in Britain, to meet with colleagues from Museums & Attractions. It has been a very busy month!
It seems that it is now a tradition to leave you on a cliffhanger, so here goes. I am having a meeting with colleagues in the coming days to discuss a very unusual volunteering opportunity – it might not come to anything yet, so all I am saying at this time is 'cowabunga'…. I will leave Rebecca to explain next month!
See you in August!
PS Summer environmental volunteering opportunities will be published soon, including the hedgerow survey which is a great excuse for a lovely towpath walk. Check out our website for more details and other great opportunities.
Amanda is a volunteer coordinator for the Technical Team within the Trust. Whether it’s finding a student for a long-term placement with the environment team or assisting the hydrology team with a team of volunteers to count boat movements, she can be counted on to find the right people for the role. Amanda joined the Trust in July 2012 and previously worked as the Volunteer Leader in the East Midlands. She has worked at other charities in people engagement roles, but is at her happiest besides the water.See more blogs from this author