Farewells and hellos

Changes are afoot in the South East Waterway. Read on and allow us to update you on what's going on.

As I prepare for maternity leave, I have been reflecting on my three years, 11 months and one week at Canal & River Trust. I genuinely love my job and I know a lot of that is down to the lovely people I work with – 90% of whom are ‘my’ volunteers.

What we’ve achieved in under four years has been amazing and we continue to work together to make it bigger and better. I know that this volunteering monster we’ve created isn’t going to slow down in my absence, so I’m looking forward to hearing all about what you’ve achieved when I return in 2017!

As I hand the blogging baton over to Jacqui, let’s have a quick look at the highlights so far this year:

  • 26 new Volunteer Lock Keepers – welcome!
  • 118 returning Volunteer Lock Keepers – welcome back!
  • 12 Greeter Volunteers at Braunston Stop House assisting 100’s of visitors every month.
  • Celebrating the national Clean for the Queen intuitive were The Rising Sun in Berkhamsted, Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club, The Willows Residents Association in Hemel Hempstead, Buckingham Canal Society, IWA Northampton and Banbury Canal Partnership.
  • Not one but two canal clean-ups, ridding the waters of trolleys one-by-one!  Well done to IWA Milton Keynes and IWA Warwickshire who both held successful events to clean the canal through MK and Rugby respectably. 

More welcomes

To our newest adoption group – Berkhamsted 53 Canal Support Group.  Led by local canal lover Andrew Worboys, this group plan to keep their mile stretch tidy and free of litter, as well as involve the local community and help promote the Trust’s initiatives including Share the Space and healthy ways to feed the ducks.  Also welcome to the MacIntyre Charity volunteers who are regularly litter picking throughout Milton Keynes & surrounds.

A huge well done to our regular adoption groups who lead the way in regards to using their initiative, helping out the local customer operations team with their workload, continue to promote the Trust and engage with new volunteers and are making their local areas more pleasant places to be - Whilton & Buckby Locks Association, Braunston Canal Society, Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership, Blisworth Canal Partnership, Friends of Fenny Stratford, Wendover Arm Trust, Friends of Dudswell and Rickmansworth Waterways Trust.

And finally thanks to all our individual volunteers who turn out to help at a Towpath Taskforce, promote the Trust at an event or come along to help with a local project in their community.  What we are achieving together is genuinely astounding and I hope you are all very proud of yourselves.

A message from Sonny

Hi. I’m Sonny King, keeping Miriam’s chair warm whilst she is on maternity leave, and I’ve worked for Canal and River Trust for just over four years.

I started in the last six months of British Waterways as an operative for the customer ops team on the Grand Union Canal. This means going over our teams section and making sure all the water levels are fine and responding to anything that crops over the course of the day from empty pounds to cows in the canal, you name it, I’ve seen it.

After spending about a year and a half with that team I moved over to the construction team so I could get a bit more hands on experience with fitting lock gates, stoppages, and other canal maintenance. In the time I spent on the construction team I gained a certification for operating 360 excavators both above and below ten tonnes. This came in handy when it came to dredging out winding holes.

From there after some more time passed an opportunity came to join the volunteering team as volunteer leader which I was very excited about. I really enjoy working with communities and groups that are engaged with their local area and so far have been fortunate enough to meet lots of people who are really keen to make a difference. I look forward to spending more time over the next year rejuvenating the canal with and for all of its users.

A message from Jacqui 

Hello everyone, I’m Jacqui Flint, the new volunteer development co-ordinator for the SE waterway. I started mid April so have been trying to get out and about to see our lovely canal network and have met quite a few of you volunteers already. Thank you for making me feel so welcome.

I have lived in Milton Keynes for over 20 years, five years of which right next to the canal and spent many an hour walking along the towpath with a pushchair. I have lots of fond memories of the waterway and now feel very fortunate to be working for the Canal and River Trust and have the opportunity to work with so many volunteers who help protect and enhance the waterway.

Please send in your pictures and stories of your volunteer efforts so that I can include them in future blogs as it is great to be able to share and celebrate your successes and hopefully provide some inspiration to others.

As we move into early summer it seems on every towpath is a proud duck and her ducklings. Here’s a picture of a flock I came across on the Oxford Canal near Rugby. I wasn’t sure if flock was the correct collective noun and when I looked it up there are many words such as badling, plump, waddling or flush! Whatever your preference they are certainly very cute and makes a walk along the towpath a real pleasure.

Finally, I would like to thank Miriam for showing me the ropes in my first few weeks and wish her all the very best as she goes off on her maternity leave. We will all be eagerly waiting for her to pop in the office and show us her new arrival!

Until next time,


Last date edited: 17 June 2016

About this blog

Volunteer leader

Every month, dozens of groups and individuals give up their time to help make the canals a nicer place for everyone to enjoy. From hauling trolleys out of the water to lock keeping and giving tours of empty locks, our volunteers are an amazing asset and well worth celebrating.

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