Adopt a canal! – Bourton Meadow press release

As it reaches its first birthday on 2 July 2013, the Canal & River Trust is launching an appeal for communities to transform their local canal or river through adopting mile-long stretches of waterways across England and Wales. 
Press Assocation 2 July 2013

The initiative has been inspired by various community groups, from scout troops to waterside residents, who have, since the establishment of the charity last year, come forward asking to get more involved in the day-to-day care of their local canal and river.

Such a group that have seized the opportunity to work along the Trust is Buckingham Canal Society who have been progressing with actual restoration of the former waterway to Buckingham. Working with the support of the local councils and residents living near Buckingham, they see the restored waterway as a huge community asset.  Terry Cavender describes the experience: “Restoration of the green space that the canal area offers has been the main appeal to the community. Alongside this there are potential flood management aspects that the waterway can also provide. We had a real desire to get involved and begin restoring our local waterside area. By working with the Trust, we’ve been able to put on some great events and make some really positive changes. The Trust simply can’t do everything all the time so it’s great to get together as a partnership and to give a little back to something that many of us use every day. It’s been really rewarding and satisfying to be part of making a difference in bringing back to life our important industrial heritage, along with the green spaces and canals around Buckingham.” Restoration work is currently under way with excitement building toward later this year when it will be rewatered.

When the Canal & River Trust took over the care of 2,000 miles of historic waterways in England and Wales on 2 July 2012, it was the largest ever single transfer of state assets to the voluntary sector.  Since then it has raised almost £1,000,000 in donations and in-kind support, recruited around 3,000 Friends and received pledges of support from 17 corporate partners, including Marks & Spencer, Google and People’s Postcode Lottery.

Among the most significant changes has been the growth in numbers of people wanting to volunteer on the waterways, including over 250 volunteer lock keepers and 84 education volunteers who have inspired around 10,000 children to learn more about the waterways.

Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust, explains: “We have made a great start in our first year but have only just begun to realise the untapped potential out there among communities wanting to get more involved in their local waterway.  Adoptions are the next natural step.  They aren’t just good for our canals, rivers and towpaths, helping to get those communities who most care for them to help us with their upkeep.  They are good for communities too, providing wonderful outdoor spaces for people to come together, to get involved in a rewarding activity and to grow their own community.”

Waterway adoptions give communities the chance to work together with the Canal & River Trust’s local teams and partnerships to shape the future of their waterways.  At a hands-on level they are able to get involved in activities specific to their waterway, from recording and improving wildlife habitats or maintaining a local towpath, to helping to fundraise, run educational events or helping combat anti-social behaviour.  For some groups, adopting a canal is also a social activity, allowing them space for BBQs and social events and for meeting and mixing with their neighbours.

Tony Hales adds: “It is easy to forget that 500 miles of canals were lost in the last century because not enough people cared about them and too many people took them for granted.  We should never forget the lesson that it doesn’t matter how much money, time and effort we all invest in caring for our precious waterways, they will only survive in the long term where local communities take pride in them and help us improve them.”

Full details including a Waterway Adoption handbook are available from www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer or by contacting volunteer@canalrivertrust.org.uk / 0303 040 4040. The Canal & River Trust’s first Report and Accounts will be published on 9July at its Annual Meeting.  For more details visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

Ends

 For media enquiries please contact:

Simon Henry, Campaign Manager, T: 07789 178506   E: simon.henry@canalrivertrust.org.uk

Press Office, T: 0203 204 4514   E: press.office@canalrivertrust.org.uk

Notes to editors:

Case studies: (further details available on these or others on request)

Buckingham Canal Society

Founded in 1992, the group are working on a long term canal restoration of around 11 miles from Cosgrove to Buckingham. The Buckingham Arm of the canal was officially abandoned in 1964 and is now a grass covered and filled canal corridor. Physical restoration has begun at both end with a view to improve the leisure and health benefits the canal offers, enrich the natural environment, restore key heritage structures and contribute to local flood relief for Buckingham and the surrounding villages. The project at Bourton Meadow is one of four restoration project sites currently being run by BCS. For more information on the Society and its restoration work please see the Society’s website at www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk

This project received £7,698 seed funding from the Community Chest, a grants scheme for community projects run jointly by AVDC and Vale of Aylesbury Housing. The seed funding unlocked a £69,985 grant from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Limited). WREN is a non-profit making Environmental Body registered to fund projects, which are eligible under the Landfill Communities Fund, which is in turn regulated by ENTRUST. WREN receives the majority of its funding from the landfill tax levied by FCC Environment who collect this from companies sending material to landfill.

For more information about WREN please visit http://www.wren.org.uk/.

For more information about AVCC grants available, please call the Community Chest Grants Officer, Sarah Rothwell, on 01296 585634.

The picture shows volunteers from Buckingham Canal Society Simon Henry, Kieran Mahil, Terry Cavender, Richard Lewis, Peter Carr and Richard Howlett taking part in the restoration of the Bourton Meadow canal at Buckingham. This has been further publicised as part of the Canal & River Trust’s Waterway Adoption’ Campaign. As it reaches its first birthday on  July 2, 2013, the Canal & River Trust is launching an appeal for communities to transform their local canal or river through adopting mile-long stretches of waterways across England and Wales.

Photo by Matt Alexander/PA Wire