Nigel on the welcome boat Nigel on the welcome boat

I man the Admiral every Thursday and I've had 63 people come aboard already today - and we're only halfway through the day! The Admiral is a Welcome boat with lots of information on board about the canals and activities - history, children's activities, trails and all sorts of information. It's a fantastic boost for this waterway, offering a place for people to come in and find out more about our wonderful canals.

K&A welcome boat

Local people and people from all across the world come aboard and I met some Americans this morning - I like meeting people. When I retired from work I missed meeting people and I knew I wanted to do something.

Caen Hill welcome boatAfter working for a bank for 37 years, I opted to retire early and then went into gardening for nine years setting up my own garden maintenance business. When my body started giving up I thought, 'What am I going to do next?' and that's how I ended up doing this work as a volunteer manning the Admiral and doing other volunteer tasks. I live in Devizes so I'm local and I can cycle to work here which helps keep me fit too.

The Admiral, welcome boatA huge amount of the work to get this boat set up and running was done by volunteers. And when it was launched it was named in honour of Admiral Sir William O’Brien, a Royal Navy veteran who became a key figure in the restoration of the Kennet & Avon Canal. I think she is a boat to be proud of.

Occasionally we take the boat to other venues for events and festivals along the canal, but the Admiral is moored here most of the time at the top of the Caen Hill Flight by the café at lock 44.

Nigel volunteering on the welcome boatI've never been on a boat holiday but I love being aboard this boat and when it's quiet I love gazing out across the water through the hatch door – it's so beautiful here.

Nigel, Caen Hill Locks, Kennet & Avon Canal