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Charity seeking volunteers for Gloucestershire’s waterways

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The Canal & River Trust, the national canal charity, is appealing for volunteers to join its team which operate the amazing swing bridges, improve the towpath, and help support biodiversity and wildlife along the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, writes Richard Joyce.

Volunteers, who can give as much or little time as they have available, are invited to upcoming welcome sessions where they can find out what volunteering at the Trust is like, and discover more about the range of great activities that they can get involved in.

Mark Evans, regional director, at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “This past decade has seen a huge growth in people volunteering to help look after the region’s waterways.  It is a great way to meet people, learn new skills and give something back to the canal network and the heritage and wildlife that it supports.”

Once the broadest and deepest canal in the world, the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal still stands out from other navigations because of its sheer scale and impressive engineering, with its immense swing-bridges.

Mark continues: “The nation’s canals are enjoying a second golden age and are busier today than at any time in their history. However, they date back hundreds of years and need special care and attention to make them resilient from the impacts of extreme weather as result of climate change.

“As a charity, we are focussing our resources on the key work to keep the canals open and operable for boats, people, and wildlife. And with the support of more volunteers we can improve and look after the network.

“We are hosting a number of volunteer welcome sessions over the coming weeks where you can speak to boaters and get a taste into life on the canal and rivers, but also its surrounding green spaces. We would love local people to come along and see how they can make a positive difference to our work, including being involved in operating the giant swing-bridges along the canal which play an important role in daily life along the waterway.”

Cost pressures across the Trust’s ageing heritage network, together with soaring inflation, means that it will be reducing availability of the swing bridges during 2023 – although with the support of additional volunteers, it hopes to resume a full seven-day service in due course.

People can find out more about upcoming welcome sessions by visiting the volunteering opportunities section on the Trust website.

For more information on the work of the Canal & River Trust, including how to support through volunteering or making a donation, go to canalrivertrust.org.uk.

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