News article created on 16 November 2016

South Cheshire canal adoption scores a century of work parties

Canal enthusiasts from the Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch Adopters (SUMBA) celebrate their 100th volunteer canal work party on Saturday 19 November with a special cake, followed by vegetation clearance at Aqueduct Marina, Church Minshull, Cheshire.

SUMBA volunteers group in boat

The group was formed in April 2014 in response to a call from the Trust. Even at the start, SUMBA entered the record books by adopting five and a half miles of the Shropshire Union Canal Middlewich Branch from Barbridge Junction to Church Minshull in South Cheshire – the longest adopted stretch of canal in England. Most adoption groups look after a mile or less.

In just over two and half years, their numbers have grown to more than 50 volunteers, with around 25 men and women regularly turning out to help with each organised activity.

Work has included towpath and canalside maintenance, vegetation control, painting and repairing locks, helping boaters, litter picks, adding waterside picnic tables, benches and barbeques, and planting fruit trees and shrubs. Their ‘Clean for the Queen’ event in March resulted in a massive 12 mile litter pick from Calverley to Middlewich, involving 35 volunteers including Nantwich cubs. A major hedge-laying project near Venetian Marina was runner-up in the Trust’s prestigious national Living Waterways Awards 2016. 

SUMBA organiser Graham Russell said: "Our volunteers have donated a total of more than 4,900 hours to improving the canal. The response to our initial call was amazing and the existing group far exceeds our original expectations. Now to be celebrating our 100th working party is a great achievement and a source of pride for all our volunteers who have worked so hard with us over the last two and half years."

Wendy Capelle, local waterway manager with the Trust, thanked the group for their tremendous contribution and added: "The SUMBA group adoption is a fantastic example of how volunteers play a vital role in improving the canal environment. Hundreds of walkers, boaters, anglers, cyclists and joggers have benefitted from their hard work and now have an improved experience along the Middlewich Branch thanks to the SUMBA volunteers."