Lucy Blake - Volunteer of the Month January 2017
Lucy became interested in inland waterways after completing part of her Duke of Edinburgh's award on a Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camp. Lucy is now a Camp leader and as well as discovering a love for the waterways, she has also found love with a fellow WRGie.
Congratulations on your forthcoming wedding to Chris, how did the two of you first meet?
We first met on the Cotswold Canals during a reunion camp. We then met up at the WRG reunion for three years in a row. Last year I led the Cotswolds Camp with Chris as my assistant and we hit it off.
How did you first become interested in inland waterways?
I first became interested in inland waterways as part of my Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. I took part in a WRG Canal Camp for my residential section. I enjoyed the camp so much that I have been part of the inland waterways ever since, taking part on camps, assistant leading on camps and now leading.
What is your favourite waterway?
My favourite waterways are the Cotswold Canals. I have spent a lot of time on the different sections and enjoy seeing them change and develop.
You are going to be a team leader at Waterway Recovery Group’s Weymoor Bridge Canal Camp over Easter. What is involved with running a Canal Camp?
Before Camp starts I contact each of the volunteers taking part to coordinate transport and collection arrangements. I chat to each person individually about their previous experiences and relevant skills, as it may help us to allocate specific jobs on site. I also find out if they currently have any medical issues or dietary requirements that we need to be aware of and cater for.
On the first day of Camp I lead our introduction and health & safety talks with the volunteers and answer any questions. If I was unable to answer something I would seek support from my assistant or mentor.
After our health & safety talk and video, my assistant, mentor and I take all the volunteers to our work site to do a tour as well as the site specific health & safety talk. Whilst on site, volunteers are given an overview of the jobs that we will be doing and how our work is linked into a bigger project plan for the canal.
Throughout the Camp I will coordinate and manage the tasks that the volunteers will be doing, so they could learn new skills and develop any skills that they already have. It is important to keep the volunteers changing jobs so they get a taste of everything being offered to see what they like doing. The hope is that if you make the camp enjoyable with varying tasks the volunteers will be encouraged to come back. As well as looking at our volunteer’s enjoyment, I focus on our project plan, as we have a list of jobs which need to be completed during Camp. It is important to make sure that our camp gets all work completed, otherwise it could have a knock on effect for any that follow.
What is the best thing about leading Canal Camps?
The best thing about leading a Camp is the sense of achievement at the end, as you can see the progress your Camp has made. You also get to see everyone happy and enjoying themselves, as well as gaining the satisfaction of knowing you have helped people learn new skills, have great experiences and make new friends.
Why is your volunteer role important?
Volunteers are important as they provide the local canal trusts and waterways with support and labour to progress with their restoration plans.
What is your biggest achievement as a volunteer?
My biggest achievement so far would be winning this award.
If you could only take one item on Canal Camp what would it be?
It would have to be my ear plugs, to block out the noise of all the snoring in the hall.
What is your favourite Canal Camp meal?
The traditional cooked breakfast, as it sets you up for the hard work during the day.
How else do you spend time by the water?
In my spare time I like to do kayaking and canoeing. I also enjoy walks in the countryside alongside the canals and rivers.
Finally …short shorts or trousers?
It would have to be trousers.
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