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News article created on 23 February 2017

Lapworth volunteers secure funding boost for canal towpath improvements

Visitors and boaters to Lapworth will be able to enjoy better facilities and experience a spruced up environment thanks to the efforts of local volunteers working with us.

Volunteer lock keeper, Fraser Pithie

Warwick District Council and Lapworth Parish Council have approved a £10,000 grant to improve the towpath along the Stratford upon Avon Canal that is one of two canals running through the village. The application for the grant came from one of the village’s volunteer lock keepers who wanted to improve the canal for local people and visitors. The successful award means that around 720 metres of towpath will be resurfaced from the centre of the village at Brome Hall Lane north to the lock flight behind The Boot Inn.

The work, which is due to start in the Spring, will be carried out by our volunteer Towpath Taskforce. Once completed, a towpath of a better hard standing with a flatter and improved surface, will be established making it more enjoyable for walkers and cyclists.

The project follows recent works to improve and repaint a major water aqueduct that crosses the canal at Lapworth. Volunteer lock keeper Fraser Pithie from Kenilworth, a retired senior operations manager for Severn Trent Water, contacted his former employer to encourage them to carry out the works. Fraser didn’t leave it there though, while lock keeping he noticed how many people liked to walk the towpath but that sections of it were, in parts, uneven and muddy during wet weather. 

In his own time Fraser worked and gained the support of Sue Gallagher and Peter Whiting, District Councillors for Lapworth, and crucially Lapworth Parish Council by attending its meetings, enabling him to compile an application for a Warwick District Council grant.  

Speaking about the grant Fraser said; "This is great news and I would like to thank Warwick District and Lapworth Parish Councils. The grant will enable the Canal & River Trust’s volunteers to improve the towpath in the centre of Lapworth and enable many more people to use it. With the aqueduct now repainted and an improved towpath coming it’s been worth the effort and time as visitors, boaters and the local community will now be able to enjoy what is a lovely section of canal."

Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the Canal & River Trust’s West Midlands Waterway Partnership, said the grant award demonstrated how volunteers can help improve local amenities. "We’ve been working with a team of volunteer lock keepers in Warwickshire for several years now and, coming from diverse backgrounds, they each bring different skills and expertise and provide excellent customer service to boaters and members of the public.

"In this particular case Fraser showed great passion and a genuine desire to make things better for people living in and visiting Lapworth. He gave his own time to put together the grant application which is really commendable. Local people are very lucky to have such a great a team of volunteer lock keepers who really care about the village and making it a more attractive place to live and spend time."