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Duchess of Cornwall at Bowood House
Friday, 22 July 2011 13:22
Duchess of Cornwall Celebrates Successful Partnership

HRH the Duchess of Cornwall was guest of honour at a drinks reception hosted by the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne in the lovely surroundings of Bowood House. The reception was arranged by Lord Lansdowne, President of the Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership, to thank members for their work, and to celebrate their successes. The Duchess of Cornwall is patron of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and takes a keen interest in the Trust's work. She enjoyed hearing at first hand about recent achievements like the success of Swindon's green development at Wichelstowe in the 2011 Waterways Renaissance Awards organised by the Waterways Trust. She also heard of the progress made in the plans to restore the canal link to Melksham. Although called ‘The Wilts & Berks', boundary changes in the two centuries since opening mean that the canal is no longer officially in Berkshire but now after leaving Wiltshire and Swindon approximately half of its length crosses the county of Oxfordshire.

HRH was delighted to meet Councillor Patrick Greene, Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, Councillor Rod Bluh, Leader Swindon Borough Council, and Councillor Alison Thomson, Chairman Vale of White Horse District Council, as well as representatives of many members of the Partnership.

Chairman of the Partnership, Fleur de Rhe Philipe said, "The Partnership is most grateful for Lord and Lady Lansdowne's generous support in hosting the reception. The Wilts & Berks restoration is probably the most ambitious in Britain and the strength of the Partnership is key to maintaining progress. The Partnership shares a clear view of the many benefits that the restored waterway will deliver to communities across Wiltshire, Swindon and Oxfordshire."

John Laverick, Chair of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, said, "The part-restored waterway is already bringing many benefits to our local communities. Many people enjoy leisure activities like walking, running, cycling as well as fishing and boating on the water. The canal is a magnet for wildlife and offers a great deal for birdwatchers and wild life enthusiasts. And in the long term there will be significant economic benefits; as the restoration is completed the connections to the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Thames will open up a very attractive area for narrow boat cruising."

Patrick Greene, Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council said, "We see our membership of the partnership as very worthwhile because it has enabled us to lend support to a project that is bringing a wonderful amenity to Oxfordshire."

Cllr Alison Thomson Chairman of the Vale of White Horse District Council said "The work of the volunteers is much appreciated by our local communities and we look forward to the waterway connection being completed so that boaters and towpath users can enjoy the Vale from a new perspective"

Cllr Roderick Bluh Leader Swindon Borough Council said: "The recently opened section of the Wilts & Berks Canal at Wichelstowe is a demonstration of the Partnership delivering more of this exciting project and how in the future the countryside can be brought into the centre of Swindon."