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Canal Trust seeks support for busy year

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Hardworking volunteers are hoping to recruit some extra help as they continue their restoration of a former waterway.

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has made significant progress between Melksham and Chippenham in recent years.

Local workparties have created one of the charity’s longest stretches of navigable waterway, near Reybridge, even offering public boatrides on a regular basis.

Volunteers have also continued to rebuild Pewsham Locks and cleared hundreds of metres of the former line, north of the A4.

The Trust has also purchased land near Queenfield Farm on the northern edge of Melksham, as part of a longer-term project to re-open the former towpath as a safe route for families to walk or cycle to Lacock.

There are now so many different pieces of work that the charity hopes to recruit more volunteers to quicken the pace of restoration.

Dave Maloney, chairman of the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch of the Trust said, “We’re very grateful to all of our amazing volunteers, who come from all walks of life, but 2020 will probably be one of our busiest years, so we’re really keen for more people to join our campaign.

“Workparty roles include digging, bricklaying, hedge-laying and grass-cutting, and we’re also looking for specialist input from civil engineers and surveyors, and people who can help with fundraising.

“We also have an events team which not only supports participation at Melksham Food & River Festival and Chippenham Folk Festival, but also runs our popular tripboats and ‘pop-up’ cafes at Pewsham Locks, and organises social events such as Melksham beer festival.

“There are so many ways in which people can help, and it’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and make new friends.

“Every hour of support is sincerely appreciated and takes us another step closer to achieving our ambition of a fully restored canal.”

Email dave.maloney @wbct.org.uk

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, connecting Chippenham, Calne, Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon, and providing a much-needed boost to local tourism, trade and employment.

Visit www.wbct.org.uk

Photo: Canal Trust branch chairman, Dave Maloney, alongside the restored Wilts & Berks Canal between Melksham and Chippenham.

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