Monday, 29 October 2012

Kennet and Avon Canal Trust Calls for Volunteers to Take Waterway Into 21st Century

Give us your time and we will turn that into the equivalent of £5m, KACT tells people in theregion’s ‘canal counties’

People living in the counties through which the Kennet and Avon Canal passes are being encouraged to give their time, skills and resources to help the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust (KACT) complete £5m worth of vital work needed to keep the waterway relevant and enjoyable for the millions of people who use and visit it every year. The KACT, which is 50 this year, is planning a number of major restoration and improvement projects along the canal between Reading and Bristol,but it needs the talents of residents living alongside it to make them happen.

Chairman designate of the KACT Council of Trustees, Rob Dean, says, “This is not a traditional call for funds whereby local people hand over their cash and then lose the connection between their donation and the end result.  We want to harness the skills, talents and ability of all those living between Bristol in Avon, through to Somerset, Wiltshire, and onto Reading in Berkshire, to personalise their support for the Kennet and Avon by pledging their help in a number of key areas that will enable us to continue our vital role in promoting, enhancing and protecting the historic buildings and artefacts that line the 87-mile waterway.”
Every hour contributed by a KACT volunteer is equivalent to a £25 donation to the organisation, on average. Based on that figure, the KACT will need 40,000 hours of promised volunteer time in order to reach its £5m restoration target.

Volunteers will be directed to work on key projects local to them across the region. These range from redeveloping the KACT visitor centre at Newbury, Berks, restoring the historic Devizes Wharf building in Wiltshire, as well as large-scale, urgent, support for Crofton Pumping Station, near Marlborough and taking part in the redevelopment at Claverton Pumping station in Somerset with the Canal and River Trust; to create an education/visitor centre, a new car park and the setting up of a water taxi service to the site.  Finally, there are plans to develop a visitor and education centre for the western entrance to the canal at Bristol.
Rob adds, “We are looking for reliable, flexible people who enjoy working as part of a team and who think they can add value, for example, either by organising people and things, or who have experience applying for grants. In return, we can offer them the chance to learn new skills and gain valuable, high-quality experience and training, make new friends and also create a lasting impact on  one of the most historically important and stunning  features of the UK’s landscape.”

To volunteer, see, and follow the instructions from the home page.

Monday, 15 October 2012

KACT Trustees to Appoint New Council Chairman in 2013

Rob Dean chosen by KACT Trust Council to lead organisation from January next year

The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust (KACT), is to appoint a new Chairman of its Trust Council at the end of this year. Existing Trustee Rob Dean was chosen by the Council to take over from Mike Rodd from 1st January 2013.

Rob has been actively involved with the KACT for more than five years, first as Treasurer then Chairman of the Newbury Branch of the KACT, and he has successfully directed the annual Newbury Waterways Festival. This year he led the launch of the KACT trip boat Jubilee in the town. With 35 years' experience in the diplomatic service, Rob, who was awarded a CMG in the 2012
New Year's Honours List, was chosen to succeed Mike Rodd due to his wide-ranging skill set, drive and capacity to lead the organisation into the future. He says: "I am extremely honoured to be asked to chair the KACT Trust Council and I am looking forward to building on the excellent work by
Mike to ensure that the Trust continues to protect, enhance and promote the Kennet and Avon during these difficult economic times."

Mike Rodd re-organised much of the KACT's infrastructure to enable it to be run more efficiently after his appointment as General Manager in 2009. That goal was reached in 2011, when the organisation came under the management of a full-time administrator in conjunction with Trustees, rather than a salaried executive.

Mike Rodd subsequently become chairman of the Trust Council, and guided the organisation's engagement with Defra over the latter's intention to move British Waterways into the charitable sector by creating the Canal and River Trust (CRT). He was also fundamental in highlighting important aspects of the emerging CRT's governance structure by leading the Kennet and Avon trial Waterways Partnership. The KACT and CRT have since signed a formal agreement about the roles each will play in the future and intend to cooperate closely.

Mike says, "I feel this is an appropriate point at which to hand over the leadership of the KACT. I know that Rob, with his passion for, and commitment to, the Kennet and Avon will do an excellent job, and will bring a number of exciting ideas to the organisation."

Mike is to concentrate on leading innovative fund-raising activities and public awareness initiatives for the KACT in conjunction with the organisation's President, David Bruce. He will also continue his long-standing commitment as Boatmaster running frequent trip boats for the KACT.

Monday, 8 October 2012

KACT Volunteers Go On A Magical Mystery Tour During Beatles Commemorative Broadcast

Above: Volunteers Alan Smith and Janet Walker with BBC Radio Wiltshire presenter Graham Seaman

Devizes-based volunteers Alan Smith and Janet Walker gamely took part in a special outside broadcast by BBC Radio Wiltshire to commemorate 50 years since the first Beatles single was released, on Friday (5th October).

Alan and Janet spoke to presenter Graham Seaman about the work of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust (KACT) in its 50th anniversary year, and their particular roles inside the organisation for the two-hour Lunchtime show, which was broadcast from a ‘pirate ship’ moored at Devizes Wharf for the day.

The programme commemorated the release of the Fab Four’s first single Love me Do, on 5th October 1962, and also contained a number of interviews with people from the Devizes area, as well as boat owner and KACT member Suzanne Hayes, who turned her vessel over to the radio station for the duration of the broadcast, and decorated it for the occasion.

The programme also provided the opportunity for Alan, who works on the Trust’s trip boat Kenavon Venture and who has also helped refurbish the Wharf building, to relate a couple of entertaining encounters with members of the Beatles when working as a pilot, as well as from earlier in his life in London.

Janet, who volunteers in the Trust shop on the Wharf, says, “It was a completely nerve-wracking experience, but also very enjoyable to meet the presenter, who was brilliant at putting us at our ease. It was fascinating to see how much work goes into making an outside broadcast programme. I distinctly remember listening to the latest tunes on pirate radio as a teenager, which of course is how the Beatles first got noticed, so it was a great trip down memory lane in that respect as well.

“It was also a very good opportunity to point out the fantastic role that our volunteers play in championing the waterway, and also how the Devizes building is integral to the local community and economy.”

The full programme can be heard until 11th October here:

Trust Council Minutes August 2012

Trust Council Minutes August 2012 - Click here to view

Trust Council minutes September 2012

Trust Council minutes September 2012 - Click here to view