PRESS RELEASE: Waterway Recovery Group Chairman, Mike Palmer, appointed an MBE in Queen's Birthday Honours List

Issue date: 16th June 2015

On Saturday 11th June, it was announced that IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group Chairman, Mike Palmer, has been appointed an MBE for voluntary service to the restoration of British waterways.

Mike Palmer, a WRG volunteer for nearly 40 years and chairman for the past 19 years, is one of the leading figures in voluntary restoration work on the UK’s inland waterways. Through dedication and commitment he has championed best practice in volunteer canal restoration in regards to health and safety, restoration skills and techniques, and plant operation.

Over the years he has also been involved in countless restoration projects throughout the UK, including Aston Locks on the Montgomery Canal and Hanbury Flight on the Droitwich Canal. These and other restoration projects have brought wide and substantial economic benefit to many waterside communities. Mike is a perfect example of how volunteering can be done professionally, but also with passion.

Mike said 'It seems very strange to get an award for something that has been, above all else, tremendous fun. This award would not have happened without thousands of volunteers who believed they could make a difference. I have tremendous pride in what we have achieved together and thank all those who have inspired me along the way.'

WRG offers a unique volunteering experience of mud, sweat & beers!  Every year, new volunteers of all ages make life-long friends, have great laughs and learn new skills along the way... with the chance that one day they will be able to walk, boat or cycle down a canal that they have helped restore.  Mike, and his team of dedicated volunteers, are at the heart of this.

Les Etheridge, IWA Chairman said  ‘Without doubt, Mike Palmer is the leading figure in voluntary restoration work on the UK’s inland waterways.  He is widely respected by senior figures in navigation authorities, public sector bodies and by those who wield shovels and work on the waterways alike. Mike has also had a profound influence on The Inland Waterways Association as a whole through his perceptive analysis, good humour and perseverance to get the right result for the waterways.’

Several other waterway figures were also recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours:

  • Sally Ash, appointed an MBE for services to Britain's Inland Waterways. Sally was formerly Head of Boating at CRT.
  • Julia Simpson, appointed an MBE for services to communities at risk of Flooding. Julia is currently the West Thames Area Manager with the Environment Agency and was formerly head of navigation and recreation.
  • Mike Wyatt, appointed a BEM for his services to the restoration of the Reading section of the Kennet & Avon Canal.


For more information please contact Jenny Black, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Waterway Recovery Group, by emailing or phone 01494 783 453 ext 604

Notes for Editors

Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) has its origins in waterways restoration working during the 1960s, but formally came into being in 1970. WRG volunteers have helped restore many throughout Britain - one of WRG's largest projects has been the complete rebuilding of the four Frankton Locks and the three Aston Locks on the Montgomery Canal, which passes through the spectacular Welsh Borders.  Other projects include the construction of Over Basin on the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal and more recently the restoration of Droitwich Barge Lock in the Midlands. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, many canals have been reopened, while others are well on the way. Many more have not yet reached that stage - it is up to us, the volunteers, to demonstrate what can be done. Volunteers need no previous experience; all they require is a willingness to get involved and a good sense of fun. For more details please visit WRG's website / @wrg_navvies

WRG is part of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA), the charity dedicated to keeping our waterways alive. IWA and its members are proud to provide support for the high quality restoration achieved by WRG Canal

Mike Palmer