Branches Melksham Calne & Chippenham News
MCC Make A Difference Day
Sunday, 21 October 2012 08:14

Volunteers donate more than a thousand hours to ‘make a difference’ to canal campaign

Volunteers are hoping to benefit from a national campaign which encourages people to play a more active role in their local community. The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust already enjoys strong support for the restoration of the former waterway and the potential boost to tourism and employment.

Now the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch of the charity hopes to recruit even more members in advance of this year’s Make A Difference DayFrom July-September alone, more than 1,200 hours were donated by local people who helped with digging, bricklaying, grasscutting and general maintenance. This had a value of more than £14,000 when applying for matched-funding.Other volunteers organised fundraising events or operated popular tripboats at local events.

Derek Flexer, chairman of the local branch, said: “We sincerely appreciate each and every hour offered by all of our volunteers.Recent activities have included clearing the former route on farmland north of Melksham and alongside the A4 between Chippenham and Calne, as well as around the restored stretch of waterway on the outskirts of Pewsham.We’ve also been running our tripboats at big events such as the Chippenham River Festival, and preparing to train more of the team on the use of quadbikes to help with the transport of equipment.There are all sorts of opportunities for people to get involved – from the physical side of our workparties, to fundraising, research, public talks and displays.They can help as much or as little as they wish, but we always offer a warm welcome.

The aim of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is to restore the waterway from the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon, linking Chippenham, Calne, Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon.Significant stretches have already been restored in open countryside and alongside new housing developments.The charity hopes to approach the Heritage Lottery Fund in order to finance the scheme.

Derek said: “This is a great opportunity for people to play their part in safeguarding an important piece of their industrial heritage, as well as leaving a legacy for future generations.With the recent presentation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, there has never been a better time to join the campaign.”

Visit www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk

Make A Difference Day is on Saturday October 27.