John Butler - Volunteer of the Month March 2016

Created on 14/03/2016

John is a Trustee of IWA, has been Chairman of the Events Committee since 2014 and is also a member of the Marketing Committee. He has been involved in organising festivals for many years and is currently busy preparing for this year's IWA Festival of Water at Pelsall in August.

When and how did you first become interested in inland waterways?

In 2002 my wife Val and I were faced with entertaining two teenagers for a few days and hiring a boat seemed like a good idea. The teenagers were mildly interested but we were hooked – within six months we had bought a boat and we've never looked back.

Your interest in waterways was presumably one reason you started volunteering with IWA, but was there anything else that encouraged you to get involved?

We joined IWA because we were spending most of our spare time on the waterways, and once you are a member you start getting involved in things. Branch meetings, work parties, events – one thing leads to another.

You are currently chair of IWA Events Committee, what is the Committee responsible for?

We organise the annual Festival of Water every August and we’re involved with the Trailboat Festival every year. Canalway Cavalcade, which brings Little Venice in London to life every Mayday Bank Holiday, is an IWA event but with its own very effective committee. National Campaign Festivals tend to be organised by local branches without much involvement from the Events Committee, so I can just turn up as a visitor.

What does chairing the Committee involve?

Mostly a great deal of time! I am lucky enough to have a very effective team who manage everything from catering to waterspace, and I try to ensure that it all hangs together.  The events move around the country to a different site each year, so to a certain extent we are starting from scratch every time.  I also liaise with other IWA committee chairmen so that where possible all the various parts of IWA are acting in unison.

Why do you think it’s important for IWA to hold waterway events?

To keep IWA in the public eye, to provide a showcase for the work we are doing around the waterways and to support local campaigning issues. They are quite good fun, too.

The Events Committee is currently organising the IWA Festival of Water at Pelsall.  What’s being arranged for the festival and why should people come along?

The part of the BCN at Pelsall is really beautiful and boaters who don’t normally venture away from the main line canals will be in for a pleasant surprise.

For those who prefer to travel in company the Birmingham Canal Navigation Society are arranging one of their famous Explorer Cruises for the week leading up to the Festival.

We have the usual campsite, and there will be plenty for the general public too - the entertainments marquee will be busy all weekend with a really varied list of performers, and we’ll have a full complement of traders and caterers. We have two trip boats coming and there will be plenty to entertain the kids as well.

Do you have any vacancies on the committee at the moment?

I would like to recruit someone specifically to seek out fundraising opportunities in the form of grants and sponsorship, but any offer of help would be welcome – there is always too much to do. Please contact emma.matthars@waterways.org.uk for more information.

You’re also a Trustee and a member of IWA Marketing Committee, how do you manage to stay on top of all three roles?

I have a very patient wife.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering with IWA?

The people – I have some very good friends who I probably wouldn’t have met any other way.

What would you say to any one thinking of volunteering with IWA?

Just have a go. Join a Cleanup, come and help at an event or even try a WRG canal camp. It won’t be boring!


Thank you to John for this interview. More information can be found here about IWA's Events Committee including the Festival of Water at Pelsall, and other events happening across the waterways this year.

If you are interested in volunteering at an event, you can find out more on our volunteering pages.

Nominate a Volunteer

Do you have a volunteer in your branch who deserves to be featured in our "Volunteer of the Month" blog?

We would like to hear about the unsung heroes of IWA, the volunteers who give their time to support the waterways through one of the many different IWA volunteer roles.  If you would like to nominate a Volunteer of the Month please contact Emma Matthars at Head Office.

Tags: Volunteer of the Month

Back