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Queen's Award Press Release
Friday, 08 June 2012 05:58

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2012.

Volunteers working to protect, conserve and improve the route of the Wilts & Berks and North Wilts Canals for the benefit of local communities and the environment were delighted to learn though an announcement in the London Gazette this Diamond Jubilee weekend that 'Her Majesty The Queen has been graciously pleased to confer Her award in 2012 upon The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust in recognition of its outstanding voluntary work in the community.'

Volunteers of the group come from a wide age range and include professional men and women of many disciplines, craftsmen and women in the fields of engineering, building and environmental conservation. Many have been involved for a long period with new people coming on board all the time. The professionalism and care that they bring to a myriad of tasks ensures that the finished excellence of their work brings benefit to the environment and to local communities right across Wiltshire, Swindon and Oxfordshire.

From qualified colleagues, volunteers can learn skills such as hedge laying, the operation of construction plant and the safe use of hand tools. Once trained, nationally recognised certification is awarded. External courses are provided in the use of chain saws, fund raising and in many other required skills. Support and guidance is provided on the ground by appropriately qualified volunteer team leaders and from a backroom group of volunteer professional advisors. Health and safety procedures, overseen by a volunteer H&S Director, are understood and respected by all operational volunteers. Full public liability insurance is carried as is professional indemnity insurance for those professionally qualified volunteers working in design and other fields.

Feedback from individuals is encouraged and good ideas are adopted thus fostering a culture of ownership. Contribution is recognised by appropriate levels of exposure and credit in the Trust magazine and by annual awards to the individual contributing the most volunteer hours and to the team recruiting the most new members.

Communities and wildlife benefit immediately from newly opened lengths of towpath and waterway providing access for all and the creation of much needed [nationally] new standing water habitat. The volunteers, whether in the field or at a desk, benefit from participating in a worthwhile and stimulating project which is widely recognised as positively influencing the social, economic and environmental climate of local communities.

Socially by bringing together the diverse interests of walkers, cyclists, horse riders, canoeists, anglers, groups of school children and boaters. A greater understanding of local history and identity has emerged as research undertaken by some of the volunteers can now explain more clearly the part that rural Wiltshire and Berkshire played in the development of the industrial revolution of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Economic improvements and opportunities that the waterway will bring to communities such as the market town of Melksham and the former railway town of Swindon are being recognised by the Chambers of Commerce in both communities.

By completing the restoration of the waterway from end to end, across Wiltshire, Swindon and Oxfordshire an exciting new wildlife trail will have been created providing linkage between areas of existing habitat and new routes of migration for creatures who might become endangered by the consequences of climate change.

As a lead project towards full restoration it is hoped that within the next five years a continuous footpath and wild flower trail will be opened between Abingdon on the River Thames and Semington on the Kennet & Avon Canal thus creating a new long distance off-road footpath between the cities of Oxford and Bath.

Although the work of the group is widely recognised by its peer organisations across the country as the most ambitious waterway restoration project yet undertaken, time is always made available to consult on issues both large and small. People raising observations are listened to and their comments, where possible, are built into finalised proposals. Illustrated presentations are regularly given to special interest organisations and at public exhibitions. Whilst all of the volunteers may be described as being enthusiasts for what they are striving to achieve, among the leaders are people who have successfully delivered similar projects, and won national prizes in the process.

It is this combination of seeking the wider view, listening to what is being said and the professionalism of those carrying out the task that has earned the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust  a very wide level of good will and respect both from local communities, riparian Members of Parliament, local and national businesses, educational establishments, central government departments, recreational bodies such as Sustrans and the British Canoe Union and all of the local government organisations along the line of the waterway including Parish, Town, District and County Councils.

The Wilts & Berks Canal was formally closed by an Act of Abandonment in 1914 when land over which the waterway was constructed was ceded to riparian owners. Although various lengths are already in the ownership of Partners who actively support the project, the remainder are vested in a wide range of private landowners. Persuading these landowners to join in with this very worthwhile community project is the principal challenge facing the Trust. Landowner views range from “how soon can you make it happen, so that the benefit of diversification might be gained” to “I would rather the canal take a different route and not cross my property”. This apparent obstacle is being tackled by persuasion and the strength of argument of the wider benefits to all of creating a new twenty first century leisure resource and wildlife trail.

John Laverick
CEng. FICE. FCMI. MIStructE.
Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
Registered Charity No 299595

Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2012
Saturday, 02 June 2012 06:16

Time to share the fantastic news, as the London Gazette today confirms, 'Her Majesty The Queen has been graciously pleased to confer Her awards in 2012 upon the following groups in recognition of their outstanding voluntary work in the community.'

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust - The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2012.

All of the details can be accessed through the following link:


Swindon Advertiser Sunday 17th June 2012

Congratulations to everybody for your input that has allowed the Trust to achieve what is rated as, 'the highest award given to volunteer groups across the country for outstanding work', 'an award for groups of people doing voluntary work that is a social, economic or [and] environmental service to the community'.

John Laverick's Press Release 7th June 2012

Wilts & Berks on UK Boating
Sunday, 13 November 2011 09:44

UK Boating LogoSky Television came out to visit the Wilts & Berks Canal on Thursday 10th November to record a show for the UK Boating programme. It is due to be transmitted on Information TV on Monday 21st November at 8.00pm.

The programme, which features the Wilts & Berks Canal and Hilperton Marina, will also be available to be viewed later in the week on www.uk-boating.tv

The Wilts & Berks section of the film includes Westleaze, Wichelstowe and Melksham. Hilperton Marina is a friend of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust having assisted greatly with the visit of their Patron to Semington Junction in September last year. Pieces by John Froggatt (Hilperton Marina), Fleur de Rhe-Philipe (Chair, Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership), Graham Ellis (President, Melksham Chamber of Commerce), Mike Lang and John Laverick (Trust Chairman) are included in the programme.

UK Boating is on Information TV at 8pm every Monday & Thursday, and 8:30pm every Sunday. Information TV is available on Sky channel 231 and Freesat 402. If you do not receive this channel all episodes are available to be viewed later on www.uk-boating.tv

From the UK Boating TV website:

UK Boating heads off to the Wilts & Berks Trust to speak with John Leverick and Tim Pyatt about the fascinating history of their waterways, and Mike Lang tells us all about the new award-winning developments along the waterfront around Swindon. Then we're off to Trowbridge in Wiltshire where Rebecca has a chat to John Froggatt of Hilperton Marina who tells us about the wonders of the local area and the environmental upgrades that ABC leisure have in mind for their car park.


Episode 9 - Part 1

UK Boating Episode 9 - Part 1

Episode 9 - Part 2

UK Boating Episode 9 - Part 2

Report on AGM held October 2011
Friday, 04 November 2011 07:26





The Trust's Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday October 15th.





As is now traditional, members had the opportunity in the morning to visit a current project - in this case MCC branch proudly showed what is happening at Pewsham, with a lovely stretch of water gleaming in the Autumn sun.

The formalities of the meeting did not take long. The Annual Report and Accounts were approved, and all the Directors who had to retire by rotation were re-elected, so we will continue to benefit from their experience and efforts.

New Waterways Charity Consultation
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 07:58

110912-waterways-summary-responses-page1-200_copyBritish Waterways is in the process of changing from a nationalised industry to a charity.

DeFRA has just published a summary of the consultation carried out earlier this year which you can download here.

Further information is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/

Annual General Meeting 2pm 15th October 2011
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 00:00

AGM 2011 Flyer

Melksham, Chippenham & Calne Branch is hosting this year's AGM for the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, to be held at The Lansdowne Hall, Petty Lane, Derry Hill, Calne, SN11 9QY.

Everyone is welcome to hear about all the exciting developments concerning the restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal.

Keynote Speaker Mr John Bridgeman, Vice Chairman of British Waterways and Transition Trustee for the New Waterways Charity.

Meal Ordering is now closed

Download full details



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."

Silver and Bronze for Wilts & Berks Canal project.
Friday, 27 May 2011 09:38

wilts_berks_canal_pernership_200Ken Oliver writes9612_1000

I am very pleased to let you know that against some very stiff nationwide competition, the Wichelstowe project received a ‘commended' in the Partnership' category and ‘runner up' in Masterplanning in the Waterways Renaissance Awards.

My special thanks to all involved in the Wichelstowe project and to BAM Nuttall, the contractors at Wichelstowe, who kindly hosted us at the event on Wednesday evening in Birmingham ‘Gold' next year !



The Wilts & Berks team receive the certificates from Chairman of the judges Helen Carey. From the wide partnership that is restoring the canal, represented here are Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council, the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust , designers of the Wichelstowe canal Arup, and BAM Nuttall who build the waterway and associated infrastructure.
The certificates are 'commended' in the Partnership category & 'runner up' in Masterplanning

DSC08808_1000The Waterways Renaissance Awards, run by The Waterways Trust, recognise exceptional projects that are using canals and rivers to enrich people's lives across the UK and the Awards Ceremony took place at in the opulent surrounding of Birmingham's Council House on 25th May

[Images 1 and 2 Paul Mellor Photography;  3 Matt Allard]



Swindon Advertiser June 2nd 2011

Wichelstowe Canal Festival
Monday, 13 September 2010 00:00

Celebrating the Wilts & Berks Canal's 200th Anniversary - Sunday 12th September 2010

Wichelstowe Canal FestivalThe Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and Swindon Borough Council collaborated to organise a family fun day on the canal at Wichelstowe and 2,000 people came along to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the canal. The event was held at Wichelstowe, where 4km of canal form a key part of the new "green" housing and business areas.

Leader of Swindon Borough Council, Rod Bluh said, "Today has been a chance for the people of Swindon to get a sense of what a restored waterway might bring to the town. Some people think I'm trying to bring a dirty, industrial canal into Swindon. Why would I do that? What I would like to do is bring the countryside into the centre of our town."

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