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Swindon Make a diffence day
Sunday, 21 October 2012 08:24

Swindon volunteers urged to ‘make a difference’ to canal campaign

 Swindon 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.So far this year, more than 2,000 hours have been donated by local people who help with digging, bricklaying and general maintenance, as well as running a popular tripboat at Kingshill and a shop in the town centre.Now the Swindon branch of the charity hopes to recruit even more supporters in advance of this year’s Make A Difference Day.

Around 1,350 hours of free labour have been provided to local workparties this year, including teams from organisations including Nationwide and the National Trust.A further 800 hours has been provided to the shop in Theatre Square, which also acts as an information centre, and 20 hours are provided every week that the tripboat is operating.

Mike Lang, chairman of the Swindon branch, has been a member of the charity for more than 20 years and remembers the dried-out canalbed from the 1940s.He said: “We sincerely appreciate each and every hour offered by our volunteers as it brings us another step closer to the restoration of the Wilts & Berks.The various activities help to raise the profile of the charity which in turns leads to stronger public support and more donations from local businesses.We are looking for people of all ages and backgrounds who can help with the physical side of our workparties, or with 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, passing through Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon.Much of the original urban line has been lost under modern developments so new routes would have to be constructed.

However, 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.

MakeADifferenceAdver26OctMike 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, which took place aboard our boat at Kingshill, there has never been a better time to join the campaign.

 Swindon Adveriser  26th Oct 2012

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Make A Difference Day is on Saturday October 27.