You too can help. Talking with and helping our passengers who have disabilities is a rewarding experience. Our volunteers also learn to work the canal locks as well as learning the knots required to moor the boats on the canal and other aspects associated with life on the canals.
The rewards of combining both meeting and talking with people with disabilities along with life on the water are endless.
Some stories of our volunteers after a trip on our boats:
“We’ve had 14 severely disabled children and their carers on board today. One boy has never reacted to anything before. But he started to respond for the first time ever when he was on the boat. It was just wonderful.”
A very pleased and excited Phil, a volunteer with the trust who waited for the other boat to come back to tell this good news.
The trust has over 75 volunteers – some of who have been involved for 30 years. Our volunteers come from varied backgrounds – nannies, bank managers, care home workers, firemen, and teachers to name a few.
To get a taste for the rich and rewarding experience you’d get from helping out read this diary of a new volunteer.
If you would like to work locks, make the tea, or chat to people, and help people aboard please get in touch with us!
Being a skipper
“It’s an immense privilege to be able to come out onto the river every week, and to be trusted to be responsible for these people every week”.
Colin, retired pilot
Seven years with the trust
“As skipper you are responsible for the whole boat and everyone on it. It’s quite tiring after a whole day. I did it for ten years, but stopped a couple of years ago. I remember one day we had a group of severely disabled children on board and suddenly in the afternoon one of the nurses came to me in tears. I thought something awful had happened; someone had been injured perhaps. A little girl had elbowed her in the ribs… and said, ‘I like this boat, I do’. She had never uttered a word before then and the nurse was overwhelmed with emotion about what had happened on the boat that day.”
Volunteer for more than thirty years
Become one of our crew
“I came on the boats with passengers for eleven years. I worked for a group that came regularly. Before I retired I decided that I wanted to come and volunteer here. I’ve been coming most Wednesdays for the last four years.”
“Three years ago, when I was working for an electrical engineering firm, I saw a customer of mine on the television with a model boat he’d made. I got in touch. It was one of the skippers here, and he suggested I volunteer. I’ve helped out on the boats regularly ever since then.”
“I’ve always been involved with the river, and used to own a boat. I started volunteering at the weekends and, when I retired, started filling in on weekdays too. I don’t like routine. This really suits me. I’ve been doing it for years.”
“I work evenings and nights in a theatre and entertainment venue. So I volunteer one day a week on the boat before going to work.”
“I was an electrician with the navy, but came back to the East Midlands when I retired. I once walked the plank in Tobermoray harbour! I’ve done four trips on the boats so far, and I know I’ll enjoy it for a long time.”
“For some people it’s their only day out in the year. It’s perfect for the elderly and disabled because once they are settled on the boats, everything comes to them.”
Former community centre manager
“I first fell in the river Soar when I was four. I saved up and bought my first boat when I was eight. I was brought up on this river. Though I worked away from here, I moved back when I retired. I’m still on the river now.”
“I work on the basis that there are no strangers in the world, just friends I haven’t yet met.”
“I’ve had nothing to do with boats in my life. I was brought up on a farm and worked as a teacher. I was as far away from the water as you could be. Then I helped a friend out on Symphony one Friday when they were short staffed, and just fell in love with it. Even though you don’t stop working all day for the passengers, it’s so restful being on the water. I’m in my third year now. I love it.”
4 yrs volunteering