Variety in Volunteering

Created on 01/06/2016

Over the last three years we have featured a different volunteer each month in our "Volunteer of the Month" blog. For Volunteer Week (1st–12th June 2016) we have reviewed the blog entries and found our volunteer's commitment to volunteering and the sheer variety of involvement is an inspiration to all.

Read on to find out more about the variety of roles at IWA and how you too can be a part of the team...

Clive WalkerPhoto: Clive Walker (yellow hi-vis) leading a walk

Walks Organiser

Clive Walker is a member of IWA Lichfield Branch and organises walks in the area, incorporating the local canals.  He finds these are a great way to engage the community in the local waterways by exploring new places and sharing historical information and anecdotes. 

"My advice is to plan the walk initially on an OS map, and then always walk the route because you never know where the stiles or other obstructions are. If you can find a walk with no stiles you deserve a medal!"

WRG Canal Camp Cook

Eli Mathieson volunteers for Waterway Recovery Group as a Canal Camp Cook. WRG's week long Canal Camps take place throughout the year all over the country and making sure the volunteers are fed well is one of the most important aspects of running a camp.

"WRG was looking for cooks for the summer camps in 1994 and I was approached to see if I was willing cook on one of the Mont camps as they knew that I cooked a lot at home. I come from a big family and was used to feeding lots of hungry people so I didn't have to think about it for too long before saying yes."

Photo Archivist

Chris Clegg volunteers his time at the IWA Head Office in Chesham as a photo archivist. He spends one day a week scanning photos and colour slides and trying to determine where the images where taken.

"I volunteer with IWA because I have the time now I'm retired and it's something I'm interested in. It also suits my abilities as I have a good knowledge of the waterways having boated most of the system – it makes identifying locations easier."

Carole AldertonPhoto: Carole Alderton

Branch Newsletter Editor

Carole Alderton is the editor of IWA Great Ouse Branch's newsletter, Ouse News. She compiles reports from the Branch meetings, updates and reports from the Environment Agency and the River Cam Conservators and also requests the use of interesting articles from other publications.

"Our branch covers a very wide area and the newsletter provides a means of communicating and sharing information with those members who do not, or cannot, come to our meetings. Many of our members are willing to subscribe because they believe in the ideals of IWA but live too far away to attend regularly."

WRG Director

Jude Palmer is a Waterway Recovery Group Director and regularly cooks on Canal Camps.  She is a great ambassador of the Canal Camps and encourages anyone thinking of trying a different type of holiday to give one a go.

"Where else can you eat great food all made for you, meet an interesting and eclectic range of people (some of whom could end up as friends for life), try your hand at a range of new skills and experiences (digger driving, brick-laying, wader-wearing, mud shovelling), acquire eccentric tan lines depending on where your boots/socks/wellies finished, add value to the countryside and leave a legacy for many centuries to come. Oh, and laugh like a drain most of the time too - you can't do that on a sun lounger..."

Website & Social Media Editor

Sam Line is Joint Website & Social Media Editor for IWA Northampton Branch. She ensures the local branch page on the IWA website is kept up to date and also posts regularly on the IWA Northampton Branch Facebook and Twitter pages.  She posts dates for the task parties, reports afterwards on what work has been done including pictures, and also points of interest and navigation notices within the ‘catchment area’.

"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."

David_StruckettPhoto: David Struckett out on a work party

Branch Chairman

David Struckett is Chairman of IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch. His role involves chairing branch meetings and attending other meetings with other groups such as Canal & River Trust and canal societies.  He also organises a monthly work party on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and helps with stalls at festivals.

"It's easy for a retired person to say "just get in there and do some work – you'll enjoy it!" But the truth is that volunteering on a regular or seasonal basis is appropriate for all ages. In these days of intense pressure in our working conditions it is essential to have a recreational outlet, even more so than in my youth (in the 1960s say, when hobbies were normal) – and an outdoor activity that can help restore or maintain an environmental gem of a waterway system is an immense privilege. Any structured tasks that are suggested in this movement are possible – and there are many potential leaders who can guide the way."


Gillian Smith is a member of the Finance Committee and a Trustee of IWA.  Her role as a Trustee is to help ensure the Association is fit for purpose and it can face both today’s and tomorrow’s challenges as well as build on its historic successes and achievements.

"My volunteering roles gave me a different window on the world, enabled me to challenge myself, to learn new things, to meet new people. I can only do as much as I can do and that is understood by everybody within IWA. We are all in the same position these days at trying to juggle many roles and responsibilities. It doesn’t seem hard work though when you’re with interesting people, who have a shared, passion and who enjoy what they do. The sense of purpose, our successes and achievements, the laughter and the friendship make it all worthwhile. It’s so much more rewarding than staying at home and watching Saturday night TV!"

Becky ParrPhoto: Becky Parr on a Canal Camp

WRG Leader Sourcing Team

Becky Parr is a WRG Canal Camp Leader with many years experience of leading and working on Canal Camps.  She currently helps to source new leaders and put together leadership teams for future Canal Camps.

"Not only is the work interesting and varied, we passionately believe in volunteers, the work that can be achieved and helping people gain new skills, from bricklaying to driving a dumper. To see a volunteer start at the beginning of a camp, not knowing anyone or ever having done the type of work before, to seeing them at the end of the week swopping contact details with new friends and arranging to meet up at another camp, is really quite something. Everyone is listened to, everyone has an input, and everyone is treated fairly and safely."

Youth Involvement Coordinator

Gillian Bolt volunteers as IWA's Youth Development Co-ordinator and is constantly working to expand the resources available for IWA's children's activity and education programme, Wild Over Waterways (WOW).

"We want to foster positive attitudes towards the waterways, particularly in urban areas where the canals are often seen as an easy target for vandalism. We believe that the waterways offer great potential for young people in terms of recreation and personal development by getting involved with boating activities, work parties and restoration where possible."

Thank you to all our volunteers who have been featured in our blog. 

There are many more roles our volunteers undertake across the Branches and WRG such as helping at events, marketing, restoration, lobbying, campaigning and much more. 

If you would like to get involved you can find out more by contacting the Volunteering Team at Head Office or your local Branch.

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Tags: Volunteer of the Month