Martin Hacon - Volunteer of the Month November 2016
Martin Hacon (pictured above) has been volunteering with us for six years and with his "can do" attitude, has a wide variety of roles at festivals and camps under his belt. Martin's next mission will see him take on the challenges of being assistant camp leader at WRGs 2016 Christmas Camp being held on the Cotswold Canals...
How and when did you first get involved in volunteering with us?
My partner Mo and I had a narrow boat built in 2009 and at the same time we joined IWA. We spent the summer of 2009 cruising the canals and during that time we met Ian and Sue West on the narrow boat 'On Reflection'. Whilst travelling through many locks together we discovered that Ian was IWA Director of Festivals and he persuaded us to volunteer for the following year’s event. Having looked at the IWA website, we agreed we could combine our summer cruising and help at the IWA Festival at Beale Park in August 2010.
What do you do as a volunteer?
I volunteer at Waterway Recovery Group Forestry Camps and weekends, as well as the southern WRG Christmas Camp. Mo and I have helped at Canalway Cavalcade and all the IWA festivals since 2010. Like a lot of WRGies I have undertaken training within WRG and I’m allowed to drive the 'red buses', an excavator <7t, a telehandler and also operate a wood chipper. I have on occasions cooked for my fellow WRGies. I will be the assistant leader to Moose at this years (2016) Christmas Camp.
What do you enjoy about volunteering with us?
What is your proudest volunteer moment?
Proud is not a word I would use myself, but two years ago I was involved with WRG Forestry in clearing trees around lock 14 on the Grantham Canal. I have since been back with WRG Forestry to clear trees around lock 15, at that time I saw that what I helped to do by clearing around lock 14 enabled other WRGies and contractors access to demolish and start to rebuild lock 14. My little bit did make a difference.
Of all the volunteer roles you have held, which was the most challenging and why?
Cooking for group of fellow WRGies. I was on a weekend camp and we didn’t have an assigned cook, it was therefore going to fall to the leader to cook. I decided (foolishly) to volunteer on the understanding that I would spend all day on site then come back and get the evening meal. This was made possible by all the ingredients being supplied by the leader (his wife actually did the shopping). Now, I like garlic with my food and there wasn’t any with the ingredients so I went and bought a three bulb pack from the local Co-Op. The meal was garlic bread and spaghetti bolognaise with mixed fruit strudel. I decided to add some garlic to both the bread and bolognaise. In fact after a lot of hints from my fellow WRGies who were watching me cook, I added one bulb to the butter and then the garlic bread and the other two bulbs to the bolognaise. I was a bit worried on garlic overload, I didn’t need to be as when seconds were called there was a stampede to get some.
What are the differences between some of the volunteer roles at IWA festivals?
One of the activities our volunteers will do is order supplies for the festival and then make sure they arrive on time. Others will take all the bookings for festivals and then allocate water space or land space for that booking. Mo and I have helped in the past with the commercial aspect of festivals.
Waterway Recovery Group helps restore canals but we also help set up and take down IWA Festivals. This work can be both physical and demanding, but you always work within your own limitations.
What I most enjoy is the coming together at festivals to promote IWA and the waterways to the wider public.
You are assistant Camp leader at this year’s WRG Christmas Camp, what are you most looking forward to about the role?
I have never been an assistant leader or leader on any WRG camp so I thought I would volunteer to better understand what is involved. This, I hope, will make me more useful to WRG in the future.
What would you say to someone considering volunteering with us?
If you want to help raise the profile of IWA then you can volunteer at both a local or national level. Your background and age doesn’t matter only a 'give it a go' attitude.
WRG, the slogan 'have a dirty weekend' sums it up. If you enjoy working outdoors, don’t mind getting a bit dirty and meeting new people and in the end making new friends then 'give it a go'
If you enjoy using the waterways be it on land or water and want to give something back then have a look at what IWA and WRG have to offer, be it for one weekend or help all year round in your local IWA group.
How did you get your nickname ‘American Martin’?
At the Beale Park 2010 IWA Festival, my partner Mo was approached by one of the volunteers who asked her where she was from. Her reply was Iver. The volunteer went to the festival communications team and said that there were two American volunteers from Iowa! The communications team thought that this was going to be a great story and approached Mo and said “I hear you are Americans from Iowa”. Mo, in her broad Scottish accent, replied “I don’t think so, we live in Iver in Bucks”!
From that point we have been known as the Americans and if you see a narrow boat at the next Festival of water with a large American flag on the stern it will more than likely be our boat!
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