Volunteer national award recipient for Yorkshire & North East is announced

Huddersfield-based Cath Munn proves life is better by water by helping us and thousands of children during lockdown.

Woman holding certificate award Cath Munn at Standedge Tunnel & Visitor Centre

Yorkshire’s Cath Munn has gone from strength to strength as a volunteer with the Trust.

The 46-year-old from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire has been recognised with a second national volunteer award within just a few months, for her outstanding contribution to looking after the our canals and rivers in our Yorkshire & North East region.

A fantastic achievement

Alongside Marsh Charitable Trust we are delighted to announce that Cath has been recognised in our annual volunteer awards which celebrate volunteer excellence along the nation’s waterways. The awards are being given to teams and individuals across our waterways in England and Wales over the coming weeks, reflecting the fantastic range of volunteering that takes place.

In our Yorkshire & North East region, the national award was given to Cath Munn for her amazing support and huge contribution in delivering the charity’s education Explorer programme within the unprecedented challenges of a national pandemic.  The educational programme provides educational resources and delivers workshops on topics such as: water safety, wildlife habitats, flooding, heritage and STEM learning.

Cath co-delivered new, interactive online workshops to 5,000 schoolchildren between April-July 2021, sometimes delivering up to four workshops a day. She embraced the unknown and excelled with the challenge, even delivering some sessions while on holiday and going international when a student joined from Pakistan.

The award was presented at a ceremony at Standedge Tunnel’s Visitor Centre, near Marsden, which is cared for by us.


Group of people cheering Cath Munn & Yorkshire & North East volunteer nominees and staff

An unexpected surprise

Cath Munn said: “This is such an unexpected surprise, I’m in shock!  It’s a real honour especially as there are so many wonderful volunteers and hearing what each of the shortlisted nominees does was really inspiring.”

She added: “I get so much from volunteering, I don’t do it for the accolades, I get a real buzz from what I do, being outdoors is such a boost for your mental health and I get so much from the Trust.  I’d definitely encourage others to get in touch, there’s lots of opportunities and lots of brilliant people to meet.”

Having lived on narrowboats with her husband Iain, a civil engineer, for more than a decade, Cath missed being by water after returning to living in a house. She first volunteered for us as part of its towpath taskforce eight years ago, helping with activities such as painting and planting bulbs for several years, before moving on to lock keeping – which has helped her to reconnect with her love of being by water.  Cath is also part of the award-winning volunteer lock keeper team at Tuel Lane Lock, Britain’s deepest lock, in Sowerby Bridge which received an award during the summer.

Making a tremendous contribution

Sean McGinley, our regional director for Yorkshire & North East, said: “Our volunteers make a tremendous contribution to our waterways, bringing their skills and experience to a vast array of activities and tasks and enabling us to accomplish so much more. These national awards showcase the range of their talents and celebrate their enthusiasm, passion and sheer hard work. They are an inspiration and I offer my congratulations to them all.

"While this award recognises her contribution to our education programme, Cath has helped us in many ways over the last 8 years, attending her local towpath taskforce, becoming a qualified boat master, plus a guide and chaperone at Standedge Tunnel, Britain’s longest, deepest, highest canal tunnel.”

A massive support to our Explorers

Claire Cavendish, our skills & learning coordinator, nominated Cath Munn for the Marsh Charitable Trust Award.  She explained: “Cath has been such a support to our education team and I’m thrilled she’s been recognised for her outstanding dedication, support, and enthusiasm with our charity, going above and beyond in helping look after our waterways and spread our water safety message over the summer. 

She has made a huge contribution to our Explorers education programme over the past year, embracing the challenges of the pandemic as we adapted our interactive water safety sessions to a virtual, online audience. We ran workshops with over 5,000 pupils between April-July, with Cath sometimes doing four workshops a day on many different platforms. It was a massive learning curve and Cath’s can-do attitude was a great support.”

A challenging 18 months

Christine Mellor, our head of volunteering, said: “Volunteers are incredibly important to the Trust. The past 18 months have been challenging, with the coronavirus pandemic affecting volunteering, and I was so thankful to see our volunteers back in force as the restrictions eased. We are reaching out to communities to act now for canals and have this opportunity to recognise some of our volunteers who have made such a significant contribution in maintaining the beauty of our waterways. I'd encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering for the Trust to get in touch, there are so many opportunities on our website in your local area. Come along and get involved!”

Brian Marsh

Brian Marsh OBE, chair at the Marsh Charitable Trust, said: “We are pleased to be able to work with the Canal & River Trust once again to deliver these Awards, recognising those who give their time to volunteer on our nation’s waterways, enhancing their heritage and supporting the wellbeing of those that use them. This year we have been able to celebrate the achievements of more volunteers, both individuals and teams, across six regions of the UK and we hope to continue to highlight these invaluable commitments in years to come.”

Award ceremonies will be taking place in each of our six regions in the coming weeks.