Name: Gavin Darby
Occupation: Sculptor
First got involved with WRG: 2009

When did you first get involved with WRG?

I can't quite recall. I had a boat for a few years and think happily cruised through a wrg site. Later I joined the IWA and worked out the link. My first camp was Basingstoke - with my daughter for her DoE residential .

How did you get involved with leading on Canal Camps?

I had a few camps and found I was interested in the whole camp. I always seem to end up with the leaders - discussing the work, the site, etc. Martin and I tended to be pro-active looking for tasks. A mix of positive and negative experiences over about four years made me stick my hand up and assist. I discovered I had passed and a discussion with Mk2 took me on to Cromford.

What do you enjoy most about the experience?

I take huge pride in the work the group has carried out.

What piece of advise would you give to someone who wants to get involved with leading/assisting or cooking?

  • Just do it! Its too easy to think of problems. You'll only be let loose on the world with the agreement of the Board - so they think you can do it. The planning stages will sort out a lot of issues that might happen and give solutions. The Method Statement and Risk Assessments are useful tools - not just there to put you off. They focus the mind on the task in hand. You are not expected to know everything - but you should be able to communicate the plan to the camp - with delegation as required.
  • I would suggest cooking is harder. If you can't cook a reasonable meal for a one, you'll not do it for 20! If you enjoy cooking a large meal for a large group then you should be able to manage - it's generally easier than cooking at home for a big group because you have the right kit.
  • Remember everyone - the Board, the local group, the volunteers - want the camp to succeed. Give them a clear goal and some guidance about getting there and it'll be fine!
  • Trust your instincts. If you think its too wet - it is. Should you have a break - yes. Should you pack up - yes. Do not push your team too hard - it is a holiday!

Every year our Leaders and Assistants help over 1,000 volunteers enjoy a working holiday while gaining new skills and putting something back into our environment and heritage.


Intrigued by Gavin's story? Find out more about the ins and outs of becoming a leader!

Want to know more? Contact the WRG Leadership Team leaders@waterways.org.uk for details  on how to get involved ... Or call Jen or Amber at WRG Head Office for a chat – 01494 783 453 ext 604.

Click here to see where we need volunteers in 2015!

"I get so much satisfaction leading camps - seeing new volunteers start at the beginning of the week knowing no one and leaving with new friends and skills at the end! It's awesome"  Becky Parr, Leader 2014