GRATEFUL volunteers have received a welcome boost to their efforts to restore a former waterway.
The Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has been awarded a grant of £4825 from Chippenham Borough Lands Charity.
The money has been used to provide additional equipment for local work parties including an all-terrain mower, chainsaw, hedge-trimmer, brush-cutter, pole-saw, scythe and various other tools as well as training.
The grant will help the charity to cope with a surge of support from local people and businesses who are keen to bring the former canal back to life.
Chairman of the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch Dave Maloney said: “The national lockdowns encouraged a much greater appreciation of nature and outdoor exercise, which inspired more people to seek an active role in the restoration campaign.
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“We’ve also seen increasing interest from local businesses who want to use our work parties for team-building days. He added: “This welcome support provides more opportunities to work on multiple projects, but we’re sometimes limited by the amount of equipment available.
“However, this generous grant from CBLC will allow us to train and equip even more volunteers and therefore quicken the pace of restoration. ”Phil Tansley, CEO of Chippenham Borough Lands, said: “We are delighted to be providing funding support to the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust “Their fantastic work along the canal is helping to bring back into use the waterway for the benefit of local residents.”
Volunteers have already reconstructed a towpath, wharf, bridge and spillweir to the south of Pewsham and are now rebuilding a dry dock. The stretch includes around a mile in water.
Teams are also working on another mile of canal to the east of Pewsham, from Green Lane Farm towards Stanley.
The aim is to extend and then connect these sections with the original line south of Lacock, where the trust has already purchased some of the land, to join the proposed new ‘Melksham Link’ which would provide access to the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Aside from the welcome boost to local tourism and employment, and the creation of safe new routes for walking and cycling, the restoration would also provide valuable new wildlife habitats.
Work party tasks include digging, bricklaying, hedge laying, grasscutting and tree planting, as well as operating chainsaws or driving dumpers and excavators, with training available.
There are also opportunities to volunteer with event management, fundraising and research.
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