Martin Gillate

Martin Gillate joined the Trust as a volunteer in 2013. He now works as a lead volunteer in our Kennet & Avon Waterway.

Martin Gillate and volunteers on workboat 'Nelson' Martin Gillate and volunteers on workboat 'Nelson'

Our lead volunteers are an inspirational group of people who give their time to lead and manage volunteer groups in their area. They play a major role in our work to breathe new life into our historic canals and rivers. Read Martin’s story to find out more about his role and what he gets out of volunteering for the Trust.

"The one common factor between all of us volunteers is love for the canals."

Martin Gillate

I was never a manager in my professional life, so being a lead volunteer has been an amazing experience for me personally. I hope I’m doing a good job. I’m always happy to get feedback. I love it. It’s given me so much confidence.

I spend part of every day managing volunteers, working closely with our volunteer leader. We have a boat which we use for maintenance and we get involved with all sorts of tasks, from lock keeping to vegetation clearance. I was at the Berkshire Agricultural Show in September. We had a stand and were promoting volunteering with the Trust.

Martin Gillate with Richard Parry

Taking the temperature

I’ve got 38 volunteers in my team. Most of them were recruited as volunteer lock keepers, but some people come for that and then find that they enjoy maintenance tasks more. I always try to organise our work and build the team around what people like.

You’ve got to ask for input and then listen to what your volunteers have to say. It’s important to take the temperature all the time. I always think that volunteers are like customers in a supermarket – they can easily go somewhere else. It’s a delicate exercise sometimes. People have busy lives and lots of demands on their time. I’m a magistrate as well so I’m accustomed to dealing with human beings. The truth is people are unpredictable. We all have frailties. 

The one common factor between all of us volunteers is love for the canals. We’re all interested and invested in the development of the Trust. We’re an enthusiastic bunch and most of all we want to see the canals flourishing.

Last date edited: 5 October 2017