THE Wey & Arun Canal Trust is seeking more skippers and crew members for its boat trips which operate from Loxwood in West Sussex.
All the proceeds raised from the trips go towards the restoration of the canal.
James Field, chairman of Wey & Arun Enterprises (WACT’s trading arm) said: “The trips are becoming increasingly popular; last year we raised £60,000 for the charity. We would like to do even better but we need more volunteer skippers and crew.
Everyone operating the boats is a volunteer; all are given the training they need to fulfil their roles and all our skippers have a Maritime and Coastguard Agency skipper’s licence.”
He added: “Our volunteers range in age from their 40s to their 80s and come from all walks of life.”
If anyone is interested for more information please contact 01403 752403 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the boat group will be in touch.
Alison Reynolds became a member of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust about five years ago. Having recently retired from working for a small fire alarm company, she was looking for some local voluntary work.
During the late 60s and 70s she enjoyed canal holidays with her family so the Wey & Arun Canal seemed an ideal place to volunteer.
She said: “Our training consisted of a day on the boats learning how to operate the locks, passenger safety, our responsibilities as boat crew, and everything we needed to start crewing.
“After the initial day of training we were allocated an experienced boat crew to work with who carefully watched how we operated commenting to help us get it right and answering any questions we had. It was great fun and I felt confident when it came to my first trip.
Alison added: “John has since gone on to be an MCA licensed skipper and we often crew together,
I have also trained as cabin crew. I would recommend anyone who is thinking of volunteering to consider joining us, as boat crew, cabin crew or training to be a skipper. It’s a great team to be part of and is very rewarding.”
Steve Harmes has been a skipper on the Wey & Arun trip boats for eight years.
He said: “I’ve always been interested in industrial history and I carry out work on canal restoration in other parts of the country with the Waterway Recovery Group.
“When I found out about the canal and after going on one of the trips back in 2008, I enquired about ways to volunteer to help with the restoration.”
He started helping with the Sunday and Thursday group restoring locks and, at the time, starting the Loxwood road bridge and lock project, but found he was unable to give as much time as he would like and turned to the trip boats as an alternative.
Having been on several canal boat holidays, he had some experience of boat driving but said the training given by the excellent team on the Wey & Arun means that even someone with no boating experience can soon pick it up.
Steve continued: “The process for obtaining the MCA (Marine and Coastguard Agency) licence, required to become a skipper, is very well supported by the Wey & Arun training programme and having an interview with a qualified MCA captain is not as daunting as it sounds; they are mainly concerned with the safe operation of the boats which is well covered by the operations manual and the training given.
“I now commit to one day a month to trip boat skippering and another to boat cleaning, an important task which, somehow, I am now in charge of! Driving the boat means I am out the back and the crew have more chance to talk to the passengers, I sometimes volunteer as crew so I can chat to people as well.“