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The charity making life better by water

Mike, risk assessor

Mike Gaylor with a colleague by the canal

I began volunteering with the Trust in 2012, initially as a volunteer lock keeper, but since 2015 I've also been working with the safety team as a visitor attraction risk assessor.

I worked as a biomedical scientist in the NHS for many years and went on to work as a patient safety manager. I ended a 40-year career with severe depression and anxiety and took early retirement.

I had never worked outdoors, and I had never worked with the public, so volunteering on the canal was something guaranteed to take me out of my comfort zone and give me new challenges. I needed the structure of work but without the pressure and politics - volunteering gave me that.

When I'm doing risk assessments for the safety team, I'm given a list of locks or structures such as bridges and aqueducts. These are frequently some way from home, but there is no pressure to complete them, so I generally plan my day to include lunch or tea at a waterside café or pub. I've found hidden corners of the canal network that I would never have visited otherwise.

Fascinating people and places

While all locks 'are the same' they are also all different, and it's fascinating to see the slight variations that can be found on locks that are close together. Equally fascinating are the people I meet at locks. The canals certainly bring together a community of interesting people!

I get great support from my task manager and never feel pressured to complete assessments. The national safety volunteering team meet up once a year which is a great way of comparing notes and catching up with friends old and new.

Everyone in the Trust is supportive of volunteering in all its forms. There are volunteers here from an amazing range of backgrounds, and we all bring different skills to the task - and we find skills and attributes we never knew we had!


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