CHIEF executive of the Canal & River Trust Richard Parry swapped his day job for volunteering when he joined the crew of Chesterfield Canal Trust work boat Python.
The 94-year-old ex-British Waterways narrowboat is used for clean-ups along the canal, partially sponsored by CRT. It is crewed by volunteers and is usually out working for about 60 days each year.
CRT is very keen to encourage people to volunteer and Richard set an example by joining the Python crew for the day. They covered about four miles of the canal from Osberton to Worksop, taking about seven hours altogether.
Some volunteers walked along the towpath picking up litter, but the great advantage of the boat is that it can get at rubbish that is floating in the canal, especially on the offside.
Work boats can also trim overhanging vegetation and sometimes pull out the inevitable shopping trolleys or other sunken obstructions. This work makes the canal look much nicer but is also vital for wildlife which can often be harmed by getting caught or cut by cans and bottles or by eating bits of plastic.
It was raining for much of the day, but the volunteers all stuck to the task, buoyed up by plenty of tea when needed.
Richard certainly played his part in rubbish collection, but also took the time to talk to the volunteers and to listen to their concerns and their opinions about possible improvements.
Upon arrival in the middle of Worksop, everyone had to disembark so that the boat could be pulled past a section of wall from an adjacent shop car park that had collapsed.
CRT hopes to be able to do a temporary repair of this wall in the next couple of months in order to restore normal navigation.
At the end of the day, Python was crammed with a very large number of bags packed with rubbish, mostly plastic, plus lots of branches from low hanging willow trees.
All the volunteers, including Richard, went home tired and damp, but proud of a very useful day’s volunteering to keep the canal looking good for its many users, both on and off the water.