There Are So Many Ways to Volunteer & Help – It’s Fun & Rewarding
If you are interested in helping, please have a look on the website where you will find a list of volunteering opportunities. The roles are all fairly flexible and the crucial thing is that people want to help and ‘make things happen.’
The following gives a taster of some of the current work going on with our volunteers:
There are over 80 Lengthsmen who continue to provide a vital role in ensuring that 100% of the canal is walked and checked for anything untoward on a regular basis. Many of them carry out routine litter-picking and bramble pruning etc. in order that the towpath is maintained in good order.
Amongst other things they helped report on fallen trees following Storm Eunice, did a check on canal vessel licences, and some of our Lengthsmen in the Woking area have also been part of the “Woking Canal Watch” initiative, providing “eyes on the canal” and reporting to Surrey Police in an attempt to monitor and act on any illegal or antisocial behaviour along the canal.
Trip Boat Crews
The crews on our trip boats John Pinkerton at Odiham and Kitty at Woking have carried over 5000 passengers this year on a range of themed charters and public trips.
Indeed, John Pinkerton recently did an extra free trip to take out a group of local Ukrainian people staying locally in Odiham, Hook and the outlying villages which was well received by the passengers with one of them doing the translation of the skippers’ talk and safety briefing! (See photo).
Helen Chatfield from the Odiham Church jointly organised the trip which included an excellent group of local musicians and cream teas. Some of the passengers also treated us all to some delicious home cooked Ukrainian food. Of course, it was mandatory for the crew to sample these.
In the meantime, a huge amount of work continues to be done by the weekend work party. Having installed all the new notice boards along the canal, the main job recently has been sorting out the piling at Colt Hill that has fall over towards the canal, where the existing piling was not deep enough or had inadequate back piles.
The volunteer working party has so far pulled the piling back straight, installed long back piles well away from the original, and fitted strengthening metalwork at the back of the original piles. This will likely take another couple of working weekends to complete so hopefully the towpath can be re-opened in November.
Other Maintenance Groups
Other maintenance volunteer groups include working with the BCA on the Tuesday Work Party which includes, amongst other things, painting lock gates, clearing the dreaded hydrocotle weed and currently doing the winter cut to manage the vegetation along with the tow path.
On top of this there are various of the smaller work groups on other work boats and the patrol boat helping check all is ok along the canal including for example checking that all users (e.g. paddleboards and canoes) have licences.
Behind the Scenes
Supporting this there is a whole group of around 80 volunteers doing work behind the scenes which is important to help deliver all the work that we’re doing and to help plan for the future. For those that are interested, there is an organisational chart shown on our website (and a photo) and we’re always looking for people who can ‘make it happen’ or have specialist skills to help this important aspect of the Society.
Within this, a particular mention must go to Heather Sloane and her Events Team which has had a cracking year and really helped profile the Canal at local events including the summer Boat Rally and the recent Raft Race (see the other articles in the Bulletin).
Indeed, the groups within this include our IT, editorial, social media and archive teams, amongst others. The archive team look to “bring to life the wonderful history and heritage” that is in their archive, and we hope to have this on the Internet in the future. And, not least of all, we finally have a membership team which we need in order to help boost and support our membership drive.
…and yes, all of this is done by volunteers!! To quote Sarah, who recently joined to helped support the press side, “I’m so thrilled I decided to volunteer. Just finding out about all the wonderful things people are doing in the area has made feel so much more connected to the community. Everyone I have spoken to has been so friendly and interesting, I could not recommend it more. There really is something here for everyone.”
So how do YOU want to volunteer and help? Just go to our website to find out more.