Volunteer Location: Gloucester & Sharpness Canal

Meet Gary

"I was in the Navy, but God moved me from where I was to what I'm doing now. I'm just on my journey - it doesn't matter where I go, it's the journey - wherever I end up, I end up.

I'm here fundraising for Canal & River Trust. I fundraise on the Mon & Brec Canal in Wales, the Gloucester & Sharpness, the Kennet & Avon, so I'm a man that gets about. I do this job because I know canals need to be kept. They really do. I was brought up in Birmingham near the BCN, only about 20 minutes’ walk from Gas Street Basin. For me, seeing it as a mud pit then, to how it is today, I know canals need to be kept and worked upon for the future... my grandchildren and their grandchildren need this!

When I was a kid I played outside. I didn't have computers and stuff. Kids nowadays are going to be walking bent over with all sorts of trouble with their fingers and thumbs. They need canals for their outdoors and without this where would they go, what would they do without all this nature and wildlife? 2,000 miles of walking through history, you can't beat it. You really can't!

I joined the Navy when I was 16. I met my wife early in my career and had two children, so after 28½ years in the Navy we left asking ourselves, "What do we want to do now?" Our journey really started having a meal in the Barge Inn in Bradford on Avon - watching the boats, we said, "We’d love to do that!" So we had a narrowboat built. We live on it now. We're roving traders too because my wife is an artist. She's painted this scene of Jack's house behind me. Jack used to be the lock keeper here for many years until he retired, and he's been able to stay living in the house.

We're planning to cruise around here, and then we're off to the Kennet & Avon. Ah, it'll only take us around a month to get there. So yes I'm on my journey, I just can't sit and get stressed out in an office. As an air trafficker in the Navy, it was a high-pressure job. Now I do my bit talking to people and telling them about canals."

Gary, Fundraiser, Saul Junction, Gloucester & Sharpness Canal