Les Etheridge Succeeds Clive Henderson as IWA National Chairman

Issue date: 15th October 2012

Les Etheridge has been appointed as The Inland Waterway Association's (IWA’s) new national chairman in succession to Clive Henderson.

Les’ interest in inland waterways started in 1971 following a holiday on  the Norfolk Broads. He subsequently joined IWA as a family member in 1982, and three years later bought his own boat. For over 27 years Les has extensively cruised the system, additionally taking other opportunities to walk or boat on non connected parts of the system.

His active role in IWA started in 2004 when after responding to an advertisement in Waterways, Les joined IWA’s Finance Committee and was subsequently elected as a trustee in 2006.  For the last four years he has been National Treasurer and last year worked with WRG in respect of IWA’s Inglesham Appeal. Locally, Les is also the Treasurer of IWA’s Kent & East Sussex Branch and Chairman of the organising committee of the 2013 National Trailboat Festival.

Commenting on his role as the incoming national chairman Les said:

‘It is important to remember that IWA is concerned for all the nation’s inland waterways, not just the half managed by Canal & River Trust.

Whilst CRT and IWA have similar objectives, we clearly have different roles. CRT is a navigation authority, whereas IWA is not (other than for the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation), and that potentially leads us at times to different views.  A comparison was made at our AGM to CRT being the landlord and IWA being the tenant’s association and I firmly believe that is a valid way of looking at it.

As two charities it is natural for IWA and CRT to work together for the common good in terms of delivering our charitable objectives.  So hopefully we can celebrate each other’s successes and equally tell each other when we think something is wrong.  My intention is to ensure that in a professional and constructive way CRT is well aware of IWA’s views’.

He continued :

‘With the establishment of CRT in 2012 we have the start of the delivery of Robert Aickman’s vision of a National Waterways Conservancy. 

In an article in the September 1976 Waterways World Robert talked about the difference between an ‘Authority’ and ‘A Conservancy’ and to quote the opening words of his article he said :

“The words speak for themselves.  An Authority gives us orders.  A Conservancy looks after the property which, as citizens, we are supposed to own.”

He went on to expand on the benefits of volunteers and how they would respect and work for a Conservancy but not an Authority.  Thirty six years later the titles may have changed but we can recognise exactly what he was talking about.

What I would most like to see in my term as IWA National Chairman would be the delivery of the benefits that Robert Aickman foresaw.  To achieve that all inland waterway supporters must work together in a constructive manner and I believe IWA has a leading role to play in ensuring this. ‘


For more information please contact  Jo Gilbertson  01494 783453 


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