Bex Parr - Volunteer of the Month
Read how Bex Parr first became interested in volunteering for Waterway Recovery Group and went on to become a Canal Camp Leader.
How and when did you first get interested in and involved in volunteering for IWA and WRG?
My sister used to dig on canal restoration camps and used to rave about how brilliant it was – I couldn’t see the attraction myself then she finally wore me down and I joined her at the London Ice Pit camp in January 1991. From there I spent a couple of days with her in Cardiff, then I got on a coach and ended up in Shropshire. After that, you could say that I had got the digging bug!
What do you do as a WRG volunteer?
I dig! I’ve also led canal camps for many years, supported by an incredible bunch of people. I’ve also helped persuade people to lead, assist and cook on future camps and have been involved in the Grantham canal project when it was being set up.
Why do you think our waterways are so important?
Not only because of the history of the waterways and what they represent (incredible engineering etc.) but to open up canals and create green spaces is so important in this day and age. Waterways should be accessible for all, whether you go boating or not, and to work on them and make them navigable, to sort towpaths out so people can walk and enjoy the canals is something we should all be ultra proud of.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering with IWA/WRG? What is your proudest moment?
I genuinely love volunteering. I love getting down and dirty, I love solving problems and making things happen, I love meeting new people and building relationships with local groups, but most of all, I think it would be the genuine enjoyment and love I have for working alongside some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met who share the same passion and enthusiasm for the work. I’ve been so lucky that some of the friendships with the people I’ve met have turned into some of the finest friendships I could only ever of imagined having.
I’ve got too many proud moments ranging from how proud I felt when I helped pin Reece’s bed (a fellow camper) together and hoist it to the ceiling of West Felton Village Hall (oh how we laughed!), falling in love and marrying my wife who I met through WRG, to standing at the top of lock 15 at Grantham this year with Mike Palmer and Mark Owen (CRT), getting a bit emotional at seeing it finished; lock gates on and full of water, and feeling immensely proud of everyone that worked on the lock and thinking of the blood sweat and tears and how clever we all are!
What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering?
Just do it. The benefits are incredible and it’s amazing how much you talk about it during a job interview! You learn so much about yourself and other people, and it’s not often you can sit in a room full of people that all share the same passion as you. And volunteering is great for your wellbeing!!
WRG is a great organisation to be involved with – teams of people that make great food, get vans to all the right places, fix kit, clean stuff, raise money, do financial and legal stuff and work bloody hard both off and on site – and you are guaranteed to have a great laugh, meet some incredible people, get knackered, get dirty and smile lots!
Want to volunteer for WRG? Find out more about Canal Camps here!
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