Volunteering – Help Needed!

We are victims of our success! And we need your help!

The Canal restoration is the result of fantastic work. Since then, the Society has continued to support the Canal actively, albeit it has notably stepped up the work over the past few years, creating the need for more volunteers. 

We have ambitious plans for the future with many projects planned, increased awareness, fundraising and working with the local community and local councils. Pleasingly we are also increasingly working closely with the Basingstoke Canal Authority – and all of this with the objective of ‘Keeping our Canal Alive and Vibrant!’

To do this, we need an ever-increasing number of volunteers, with a mix of skills.  

And this is where we need your help as we are limited in what we can do without increased support. So can you help us, please?

There are details of all the roles available on our website, but frankly, these are all pretty flexible, and we almost have something for everybody. Click here for more details. Do please have a look and send us an email to find out more volunteer@basingstoke-canal.org.uk or ring 07850 652769.

In particular, we need help on the following:

1) Events: help to support on the day or to help arrange events (see separate article in this Bulletin)

2) Help with marketing and publicity: needless to say, we need to continual get the message out to the logical community through regular newsletters, social media and other communication channels. So we are looking for help and ideas – again, can you help?

3) Supporting on the project for a new environmentally friendly boat, Kitty:

For many years, the Canal Society has run two trip boats, Kitty in Woking and John Pinkerton at Odiham. However, Kitty is now 45 years old and reaching the end of her life, and we plan to replace her with an all-electric boat with disabled access. 

Kitty is named after the last horse to tow boats along the Canal, so she should be replaced by a boat with an equally environmentally sound power unit!

To make this viable, we plan to install two charging points on the Canal in Woking, representing the first step towards making the Canal fully electric. This is in line with both Woking and Surrey’s environmental objectives and a step towards further protecting the Canal’s rich environment from pollutants.

Kitty is very much a community resource that introduces thousands of visitors each year to the beauty of one of the finest canal environments in the UK and provides trips for local schoolchildren, care homes, hospitals, and people with disabilities. Kitty has also had a long association with the Children of Chernobyl, taking children on trips each year.  

The benefits to physical and mental health from being out in nature for two hours on Kitty can’t be overstated, particularly as the country recovers from the pandemic. Moreover, she has proved to be a commercial asset to Woking, being used by many local businesses to entertain clients and in one case by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Committee meeting in London and wanted to provide something different for their members!

The new Kitty will be a little longer and wider than the current boat, allowing easier wheelchair access and providing enough space for an onboard toilet. It will also feature solar panels to help keep the batteries topped up.

We’re going to need to raise around £200,000 to replace Kitty and to put the charging infrastructure in place. We’re planning to raise this money from various sources, including grants, crowdfunding, and individual and corporate donations. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this on email and social media very shortly. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from any businesses that would like to discuss individual or corporate donations – please contact Gren Gale at gren.gale@basingstoke-canal.org.uk.

We’re also looking for volunteers who can help the project team, including producing good quality video and images as promotional material. Please contact Gren if you have these skills.

The launch date for the new boat will be heavily dependent on the success of our fundraising. We should have a clearer idea of that later this year.