Alex, volunteer lock keeper Allen, volunteer lock keeper

Meet Allen, on the Birmingham Canal Navigations

Just over three years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I decided that I would do more exercise and try to reduce my weight as that would help control my blood sugar level. I thought that regular walking would help me achieve this.

I'd recently read an article in my local paper about a man who had walked the entire 110 miles of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. I've always been interested in the heritage of our canal system and how they were engineered and built. So I thought that would be a good objective for me. I live very near the Junction of the Tame Valley and Rushall Canal and I often used to walk my dog along these canals so I thought that would be a good place for me to start.

I decided that I would walk in five or six mile stretches, and use local buses or trains to return to my starting point. I used to walk twice a week and it took me about six months to complete.

Healthy new habit

I enjoyed walking the BCN so much that once I'd finished I decided that I would walk along all of the Midland Canal network. I have walked the length of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal from Great Hayward to Stourport, the Coventry Canal from Fradley to Coventry Basin, the Worcester & Birmingham Canal from Birmingham to Worcester, the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal from Birmingham to Fazely, the Trent & Mersey as far north as Kidsgrove and as far east as Willington and the Shropshire Union Canal all the way up to Nantwich.

One day as I was walking through Stone I met some volunteer lock keepers. I had a chat with them and decided that it was the sort of thing that I would enjoy doing when I could commit the time.

Earlier this year I contacted the Trust and I was offered a volunteer lock keeper position at Curdworth. I do two days a week and I absolutely love it. We don't just operate the locks, we cut the grass, paint the lock beams, litter pick and take pride in the flight of locks. The boaters notice the work that we put in and it's great when they tell us how much that they have enjoyed travelling through our patch.

I have also recently joined the BCN society and I look forward to getting involved with their clean up operations on the BCN.

I can 100% relate to the wellbeing aspect of the Trust. Our canal network has certainly contributed to my wellbeing and I'm proud that I can now play a small role in helping others enjoy our canal heritage.

Allen, volunteering at Curdworth Locks