Chard Wadley - Volunteer of the Month October 2014

Created on 03/10/2014

Photo: Chard Wadley

IWA Ipswich Branch turns forty this year and has celebrated this throughout September and October with members, volunteers and friends of the Branch. As part of the celebrations, we have caught up with current Branch Chairman, Chard Wadley. Chard has been a member of IWA Ipswich Branch committee for many years, beginning as the Inland Shipping Officer then moving to Social Secretary before becoming Branch Chairman in 1988. Read on to see just a small amount of what the Branch has achieved over the years and why now it needs your help.

How did you become interested in inland waterways?
I became interested in inland waterways following a trip on a hire boat cruising the Cheshire ring with friends in 1977. I continued cruising the waterways on hire boats and read all literature I could find about Canals, this is how I found out about the work of IWA preserving our canals. So I decided to join IWA and became a member of Ipswich Branch in 1983. I continued to hire boats then cruised with friends on their boats and eventually bought my own narrow boat.

When and why did you first get involved in volunteering with IWA?
Because of my love for cruising the canals I wanted to get more involved by helping with restoration and got very active with Waterway Recovery Group work camps back in the 1980s. This continues even now with Ipswich Branch's involvement in the restoration on the River Gipping and other waterways in our area covered by the branch.

You are currently IWA Ipswich Branch’s Chairman. How long have you held this role and what has it involved?
After joining the branch I decided to put my hand up to join the committee and my first role was Inland Shipping, from this position I moved on to being Social Secretary and eventually I was made Chairman in 1988. This has involved running Branch meetings and committee meetings. I then decided that Ipswich Branch should start attending IWA Festivals and we set up a stand of our own and this continued for many years. Following my appointment as Chairman, together with my committee, we decided that having the River Gipping on our doorstep we should start a restoration project of our own and began by restoring Bosmere Lock on the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation.

IWA Ipswich Branch celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year. What have been the key achievements of the Branch over the years?
I am pleased that the number of members has grown over the years even though this is in partly due to us taking on Norwich Branch when they closed. I feel that one of our main achievements is when we started our own restoration project and I believe that, at the time, we were the first Branch to have a project such as this within IWA. During our restoration of the River Gipping we have achieved good relationships with land owners, local councils and the EA, which must be credited to the team of Ipswich Branch volunteers and committee members. Following on from the restoration work which was started by the Ipswich Branch I am pleased that we have been able to form The River Gipping Trust, which is continuing the good work.

What do you hope the next 40 years holds for IWA Ipswich Branch?
The Committee plans to stand down in February 2015 due to the fact that we have served many years, I have been chairman for the past twenty-six years! We are currently looking for volunteers to join us as ordinary committee members with a view to taking on some of the current members' roles in 2015; many of us would be more than willing to support any volunteer that was interested in this beyond our own terms on the committee, so it is not as daunting as it may first seem! However, volunteers are slow in coming forward at present to replace us, so if anyone is interested in joining the Branch committee do let me know. My hope is that this is not the end of Ipswich Branch as we have achieved so much over many years, hopefully there will be people to volunteer.

What is it that you enjoy most about volunteering with IWA?
It keeps me active and I feel I am putting something back into the waterways for the enjoyment I get when cruising along the canals. Whilst volunteering I have also made many good friends and met interesting people who are working for the same goal.

Do you have a proudest moment from your time as Chairman of IWA Ipswich Branch?
My proudest moment has to be when we first started restoration on the River Gipping. 

Other proud moments have been winning several awards for this work, in 1996 we were awarded the Anglian Water Caring for the Environment Award. In 2006 we received the Dorothea Award for Conservation from the Association for Industrial Archaeology for the Restoration of Creeting Lock. For Ipswich Branch to win IWA's Branch of the Year award twice, one in 2000 and the other in 2008, was a great achievement for the Branch committee and all volunteers. I would also like to thank IWA for awarding me the Richard Bird Medal in 2004.

The Branch is looking for new committee members, what would you say to anyone considering joining?
I can only say that I have enjoyed my time with IWA Ipswich Branch serving on the committee as Chairman and working with a great team. Anyone taking on the role would, I am sure, feel the same. I would like to see new people on the committee who could bring new ideas to an already successful branch. It goes without saying that whoever joins the committee will get help and support from those who are stepping down.


Thank you to Chard for this interview. Our congratulations goes to IWA Ipswich Branch and all its volunteers, both past and present, on its 40th Anniversary. It is hoped that the Branch will continue for at least another forty years that match the successes of its first. If you think you could make this happen and are interested in getting involved and providing the Branch with much needed support please contact Chard Wadley at or IWA Branch Campaign Assistant, Stefanie Preston at or on  01494 783 453 ext. 610.

Tags: Volunteer of the Month