We're working with volunteers at Audlem locks on the Shropshire Union Canal trialing a new approach to keeping the waterway spick and span.
Three different groups of volunteers are keeping the area on track with a team effort.
Volunteer leader, Dek Owen was one of the first volunteers to come forward to work with us six years ago. He has since earned the accolade of ‘National Volunteer of the Year’, awarded by waterways magazine Towpath Talk.
He started as a volunteer lock keeper and towpath ranger and has now built up a regular team of up to a dozen volunteers who turn their hands to everything from painting and lock repairs to towpath maintenance and helping boaters.
A couple of times a year they are joined by his colleagues from Network Rail where his day job keeps him busy as a signal engineer. This major workforce boost means we can tackle bigger jobs like re-laying the towpath surface around busy beauty spots such as the quayside outside the Shroppie Fly pub.
We also have help from the ADAPT group of volunteers, led by Adrian Leighton, who formally adopted a stretch of canal bank by Lock 15 to turn it into a garden. Regular volunteers often lend a hand weeding and planting in the garden which grows a variety of flowers, fruit and vegetables.
Duncan Davenport, local customer operations manager said: “The ADAPT gardeners and Dek Owen and his volunteering colleagues do a wonderful job. It’s fantastic to see just what can be achieved when a group of like-minded people join forces to put their efforts behind such a worthwhile project.
“The teams are always happy to welcome new volunteers to join their ranks. There are plenty of opportunities to make a real difference and help our boating customers safely navigate the 15 lock Audlem flight.
“Our volunteers have become known far and wide and the Trust often receives emails and letters from customers saying how much they appreciate their work and their assistance through the demanding lock flight.”
Coinciding with National Volunteer Week at the beginning of June, a combined workforce of Canal & River Trust staff, volunteers and Network Rail employees managed to re-instate more than 200-metres of towpath, paint four locks, clear two drains and patch repair dozens of pot holes.