Sam Line - Volunteer of the Month August 2015
Sam Line is on the IWA Northampton Branch Committee and edits the Branch web pages on IWA’s website. Sam got involved with the Branch after she moved with her family to the Northampton Arm in 2013, knowing no one in the area she was keen to get involved with the group so that she could meet new people and do her bit for the local community. Before she knew it, she found herself on the Committee and then at website training so she could help look after the Branch web pages. Read on for Sam’s story of how she first became interested in the waterways and found herself volunteering with IWA Northampton Branch, as well as why she loves it so much!
How did you first become interested in inland waterways? Have they always played a significant role in your life?
I was quite a latecomer to the inland waterways, compared to most volunteers. I had never been on anything other than a ferry until my honeymoon in 2000 when we hired a narrowboat on the Llangollen Canal, my husband has always been interested in boating and his enthusiasm must have rubbed off, as I was soon hooked too! Every holiday from then on was on the inland waterways, but in 2003 we made the decision to sell up and in August this year, we will have been liveaboards for 10 years.
Was IWA Northampton Branch the first group you volunteered with on the waterways or did you start somewhere else? What enticed you to start volunteering on the waterways?
My first experience of volunteering was when we first moved onto our narrowboat. We moored at the end of the River Slea in Lincolnshire, where it joins the River Witham, and it was incredibly shallow with thick weed slowing progress. We found that the Sleaford Navigation Trust held regular work parties and started with those. Before long my husband was on the committee and we, including our daughter, were involved with volunteering, even manning the bric-a-brack stall at local village festivals and helping to organise a boating festival in the local village.
When and why did you start volunteering with IWA Northampton Branch?
We moved to Northampton in 2013 when my husband landed his dream job of marina manager at Northampton Marina. I didn’t know anyone in the area but thought the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal was stunning, so when I heard about the task parties I thought what a better way to meet people and contribute to the local area. It will soon be a year since the IWA Northampton Branch invited me to join their committee (my hubby says will I ever learn?)
At the beginning of the year, you were encouraged to undergo IWA website editor training and take on the committee role of Joint Website Editor. What attracted you to this?
I have plenty of computer experience from when I was self-employed, and as I only work part-time now, I have the spare time required to work on the website. I felt honoured to be asked, to be honest, as I hadn’t been a committee member for long and yet they felt I could be trusted with the task.
What do you do as the Joint Website Editor?
My main job is to update the local branch pages on the IWA website when needed, but I also regularly post on the IWA Northampton Branch Facebook and Twitter pages. I post dates for the task parties, a report afterwards on what work we’ve done including pictures, and I try to post something daily on points of interest/navigation notices within our ‘catchment area’.
Why do you think it’s important for IWA branches to have a good presence on the internet?
It’s extremely important, in these times, to have information available at the ‘click of a button’. Most people now are online and it’s so easy to keep up to date on what’s going on. There’s also so much going on, especially on the inland waterways, that you need to remind people that you’re still there, doing what you’re doing, and hopefully encourage them to visit, or even volunteer, on your waterways. It gives people hope that the waterways are being looked after and volunteers the recognition they deserve.
What would you say to anyone who is thinking about getting involved with editing their branch’s web pages but is a little wary it may be too complicated?
The training was very informative and easy to follow, and if you struggle (or forget how to do something) there’s always someone available to point you in the right direction. Personally I spend around 7-8 hours a week on the IWA social media, but you are just encouraged to do as much or as little as you are able to do. Much like the task parties!
The Branch carries out a lot of work on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union canal, which it adopted over a year ago, but is this your favourite inland waterway? If yes why, if not which waterway do you prefer and why?
At the moment, the Northampton Arm is my favourite waterway, but that’s probably because I’ve got a vested interest in it. I think it has improved tenfold in the last two years since I moved here, the views from the top of the arm over the fields are stunning at any time of year and the wildlife and flora keep you captivated whilst you are cruising along. A close second would have to be the Leeds and Liverpool around the Skipton area, if for nothing else just the views over the valleys and the old historic industrial buildings.
What do you enjoy most about being a part of the IWA Northampton Branch team?
The IWA Northampton Branch team is a family. They have made me feel so welcome and I meet with some of them on a social level too now. They have done nothing but encourage me with everything I’ve been involved in with the committee, not just the website, but letting me help with the organising of the Northampton Festival of Water, the designs I’ve produced for the signs on the Arm and the Northampton Arm guide, to name a few. I certainly don’t feel like an outsider any more!
Thank you to Sam for this interview. If Sam's expereinces have inspired you to volunteer, take a look at our many volunteer opportunities to find one that suits you.