10 ways #canal boaters changed the world in 2013

Fireworks at Darling HarbourI love this time of year because I always get a burst of sudden optimism that makes me view the New Year as a blank slate. It’s a time to reflect on past successes and plan for a brighter future. Changing the world can sometimes mean just making a difference on a local level. I’ve picked 10 articles from 2013 that show how community boats make a real difference in people’s lives.

In January I featured a few of our member organisations who run electrically powered boats as part of their community projects. Electric boats: Cleaner, greener and quieter.

In February a group of London 2012 opening ceremony participants volunteered to do some improvement works on the community boat ‘Angel II of Islington’. The volunteers took the boat to an Uxbridge boat yard where she was taken out of the water for essential maintenance and paint work. Olympic volunteers improve community boat.

Our Easter events round-up gives you a taste of the varied experiences that our members organise for their local communities. Easter cruises for your community.

Our big event of the year was called ‘Building the Social Economy Through the Waterways.’ It was a chance for projects and initiatives that have connected communities and businesses to share their experiences. People attended from all over the UK, many from community boating projects. Read How can canal boats help your community?

Charity Sail 4 Cancer  are a specialist respite provider, funding day trips and short-breaks for British families affected by cancer. This year they piloted a couple of inland boating experiences with the help of The National Community Boats Association. Sail 4 Cancer – not just for sailors!

The South Staffordshire Narrowboat Company is a member of the NCBA. They provide day trips for the elderly, disabled and youth groups on their specially designed narrowboat Ernest Thomas II. This year they were proud to be presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

In September a community boat supported Justin Hansen the gutless kayaker in his incredible journey from Skipton in Yorkshire to Bristol in the South West of England.

We’ve featured some fascinating interviews on the blog this year.  Lee Davies is the only female Senior Trainer at NCBA. I got to chat to her about how her interest in boats developed into a career as a skipper and NCBA trainer. Do we need more women on the Cut? Sue Tomlinson is the Training Co-ordinator, a Trustee and a Council member for Wirral Community Narrowboat Trust: The volunteer who trains the volunteers. As an 11 year old child with behavioural problems Heidi Siggers really benefitted from community boating. Now a mother living on a narrowboat she shared her personal story: Canal boats changed my life.

Calling all men!

I seem to have interviewed several women this year, and men are surprisingly under-represented on the blog so far. To share your story, whether you work in community boating or have benefited from community boats in some way please do get in touch. It’s the personal stories that really demonstrate the difference that community boating can make.

It’s so rewarding!

If you’ve indulged a little too much over Christmas and New Year then remember the canals are always there for you. A brisk towpath walk on a sunny winter’s day can make you feel more alive. If you’ve ever considered volunteering, our members agree that community boating is one of the most rewarding activities that you can be involved in. You could get started with an NCBA boat handling course.

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Image credit: Thanks to John Brennan for making this image available with a Creative Commons licence.

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