Barbara Bridge - Volunteer of the Month
Our latest volunteer of the month is the Entertainments officer for this year's IWA Festival of Water at Ilkeston. Find out how Barbara started volunteering with IWA and what she is looking forward to at this year's Festival of Water.
How did you first become interested in inland waterways?
As a teenager in the 60’s I used to walk my dog along the towpath of the then derelict Rochdale Canal and think how nice it would be to see boats on it. Forward 20 years and I took my first narrow boat holiday with my late husband. We were hooked and after hiring twice we bought our own boat in 1996 and the rest, as they say, is history.
What is your favourite waterway?
I don’t have one, every canal and river is different. From the industrial scenery of Birmingham to the peace and quiet of the Shropshire Union. I have cruised most of the system including a visit to York and Ripon in 1999. That is one I am looking forward to doing again.
Why do you think our waterways are so important?
They are a unique part of our heritage. Not only the canals and rivers but the buildings and industry that ran along side. Today much of the system is still operated in the same way as when working boats were afloat, that in itself is unique.
How and when did you get involved in volunteering with IWA?
Having appeared as a musician at the Nationals in 2004 and 2005 I got together with my now husband in 2006 at Beale Park, where I had again been booked to play. Although a boater, his interest in the canals lies principally in their history and restoration and I began to see them in a different light. He was volunteering on a WRG Canal Camp so, when not on stage, I also helped in the camp and by the end of the Festival I had become a WRGie. It was after the Saul Festival in 2014 that I was asked to join the IWA Events Committee as Entertainments Director.
What do you enjoy about volunteering with IWA?
It has been a challenge but the end result is worth it when I see crowds of people enjoying themselves at an event that I have helped to create.
You are Entertainments Officer for this year’s IWA’s Festival of Water at Ilkeston, what does your role involve?
I have to find entertainment for the weekend both for visitors during the day and the boaters and campers in the evening. So far I have been lucky enough to have had some contacts which have made it a bit easier to find acts for the entertainment marquee. I try to get some local bands if I can, it helps with the publicity of the festival. Out on the festival site in addition to a couple of locals, I have two or three attractions who love us so much they want to come every year.
What can visitors expect to see at this year’s event?
There will be a variety of music in the entertainment marquee ranging from Gypsy Jazz, popular music and folk, to dancers and singers of war time and fifties songs. These can all be watched while drinking a pint from the real ale bar outside. On site there are reptiles, birds of prey, steam engines, small children’s rides and a boat horse in full costume. Not forgetting the food court, trade stands and of course the boats, historic, trade and visitors.
What are you looking forward to most about this year’s Festival of Water?
5.00pm on monday afternoon! After a dry, sunny successful weekend.
What is your proudest IWA moment?
Being told in front of a large crowd at Northampton, how successful the entertainment had been.
You are a member of duo Braunston Pickle, where can we see you perform?
We will be on stage at Ilkeston. We also play at Cavalcade and at folk clubs in the north of England.
Find out more about IWA Festival of Water.
Photo of Braunston Pickle by Margaret Beardsmore LRPS
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