The Open Lock Project (Noel Neilan)

The Open Lock Project (Noel Neilan)

We’ve featured a number of guest posts and interviews on this blog which tell you a little bit about the NCBA trainers, how they got into boating and what they get out of it now. Meet the people behind the community boating organisations and find out why so many of them have volunteered their time for free in the past.

1) Bob Ratcliffe

Bob Ratcliffe is now a senior trainer, moderator and NCBA administrator. In this interview I asked Bob a few questions about how he got involved with The Wharf Narrowboat Training Programme in Walsall.

Could You Train in Community Boating?

Bob says, “If I had to give advice to someone who is interested in community boats and boating it would be a simple statement.

“Take the first step to what can be a life changing and rewarding vocation.

I know I’m glad I got involved when I did and will stay with it for as long as i am physically and mentally able to. To see one child change their life around because “we are there” makes it all worthwhile.”

2) Paul Wood

In October 2013 Bob Ratcliffe shared a few words on the blog, in memory of Paul Wood who died suddenly, aged 56.

“Paul was a man who had many strings to his bow and had crammed more into his lifetime than most of us could do in several lifetimes. Originally from Cheadle he moved to Wolverhampton in his early 30’s where his love for narrowboats and the canals was born…

He had a natural gift for working with children and adults that displayed challenging behaviour.”

Community Boaters Pay Their Respects to a Top Man

3) Lee Davies

Lee Davies is the only female Senior Trainer at NCBA and I was able to interview her about how her interest in boats developed into a career as a skipper and NCBA trainer. She runs FindaSkipper, providing skippers for all occasions, plus cooks, training courses and more. She comes from a boating family in the time of cargo carrying, and her journey has taken her from boater to trustee, trainer and professional skipper. Read more of her story in these two articles:

How I Became a Professional Skipper

Do We Need More Women on the Cut?

4) Sue Tomlinson

Sue Tomlinson is the Training Co-ordinator, a Trustee and a Council member for Wirral Community Narrowboat Trust. She is a retired teacher and is involved in other voluntary groups as well as WCNT. Sue and a team of five carry out all NCBA training for their volunteers.

Sue says, “I would encourage everyone to get involved with community boating; it is so rewarding. It is an exceedingly pleasant way in which to spend a day (even in the rain), it is so relaxing.”

The Volunteer Who Trains the Volunteers: Sue’s Story

5) Noel Neilan

Noel Neilan has completed plenty of NCBA courses and is now a trainer in Trafford, South Manchester. He wrote a series of articles for our blog describing his journey with community boating, explaining how he began, what training he has undertaken and the benefits of becoming involved. The first instalment describes how youth work lead him to working with canal boats.

How to Turn a Surly Youth into a Cheerful Boater: Just Add Water

Narrowboat Skippers: How to Learn Teaching Skills That Make a Difference

Five Things You’ll Love About Community Boating

Noel says, “For anyone thinking of getting involved with a community boat, whether currently a boater or not I would say just do it, it will change your life and probably help change a young person’s life for the better.”

So the recurring theme is that community boating is rewarding, relaxing and life changing.

If you want to improve your boating skills and gain a recognised qualification check out the range of courses that the NCBA provide.