Towpath Taskforce - Robert Bullock

Robert Bullock has been helping to keep the canals and towpaths around Stoke clean and tidy since August 2010. Here he tells us why he is happy to keep getting down and dirty, volunteering for Towpath Taskforce.

Robert Bullock, Towpath Taskforce volunteer, painting metal railings on bridge with white paint Robert Bullock, Towpath Taskforce volunteer
"I would recommend volunteering with the Trust to anyone. Get involved and enjoy. It’s fantastic!" Robert Bullock

Robert is a qualified mechanical electrical engineer. Since 2009 he has been working in technical and quality assurance management and consequently has a wide range of professional skills – from the high/low voltage electrical industry sector to health and safety legislation for mechanical production areas.

When did you first get involved with the canals?

The BTCV gave me a contact number for the British Waterways project leader for Canals in the Community and I started in August 2010. In early 2011, when the Canals in the Community project finished I continued volunteering for Canal Clean Team.

The Canal Clean Team in Stoke is now a valued part of Towpath Taskforce.

What interested you about volunteering with the Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways)?

I have always had an interest in the environment and wildlife and have walked many miles along canals and always wondered what a big task it must be to maintain and look after them. I also looked forward to meeting like-minded people with the same outlook.

Talk us through a typical day of volunteering

We arrive at the location around 10am where we meet the volunteer leader Stuart Collins. We already have an advance work day programme, so after a chat and health and safety talk we sign the attendance sheet and unload the tools and equipment from the van to be used for the work ahead. There’s a core attendance of around 12 volunteers and we work in teams.

We return to the meeting location around 12:30 to load equipment back on the van. We then have a cup of tea and a snack, a chat about how the day has gone and then its off home.

What have you achieved so far?

  • Sanding down and painting of dam head fencing and railings at a Canal & River Trust reservoir
  • Towpath litter picking and airborne waste removal.
  • Himalayan Balsam bashing along the Churnet valley and the Caldon Canal.
  • Improvement assessment works to bridges and towpaths
  • Cutting back and removal of overhanging scrubs from towpaths and walkways
  • Painting of lock equipment 

What have you most enjoyed?

Volunteering alongside wonderful people who have a sense of pride in their work. That and the satisfaction at the end of the workday of a job well done.

What have you least enjoyed?

I enjoy every minute of it. It’s part of my life now and huge thanks to the Trust for their total commitment to volunteers

What did you hope to get out of volunteering with us before you joined?

Improving my confidence levels and learning new skills in a different environment than what I had been used to for many years.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering with us?

I would recommend volunteering with the Trust to anyone. Get involved and enjoy. It’s fantastic!

Last date edited: 10 July 2015