Even if you’ve been to Rickmansworth Festival, chances are you won’t be aware that it is organised and manned by Rickmansworth Waterways Trust. The group, made up entirely of volunteers with the exception of General Manager Mark Saxon, has been running the event since 1993.
“ But don’t worry if you can’t make Rickmansworth Festival” says Mark. “ RWT run boat trips throughout the week. If we have a volunteer skipper, just turn up and we go! … although charters have to be booked.”
The Roger is one of the last wooden narrow boats in the country that has been preserved for operational use. RWT rescued Roger in 1993, and after fundraising and a Heritage Lottery grant, the eighty-year old barge was re-built to the original design by local craftsmen using special timber and re- launched in 2000.
“Last year RWT received The Queen’s award for voluntary service“ adds Mark, “ it’s just brilliant, our equivalent of an MBE!”
All money raised at Ricky Festival from stalls, moorings and vigorous bucket shaking goes to the Trust, with a portion devoted to education, specifically the Learning at the Lock programme for primary schools …
“Around 1000 children from local schools take part every year in our Learning at the Lock scheme…children are given an insight into canal life in the commercial heyday and go on boat trips.”
And the Trust is devoting more time to education going forward by investing in a new education centre.
“We are building a new modular single storey construction at Batchworth as our main teaching area” adds Mark, “We have planning permission and a nominated contractor but are still short of funds, We hope to extend the facility to secondary school children eventually,”
So what’s so good about being a RWT volunteer?
“As soon as you step onto the tow path you step back in time – you have a real feeling of peace and tranquility… it’s a green artery running through the countryside linking towns and villages“ says Mark, ‘it has become my life’s focus!”
Martin Mace shares Mark’s passion … he became a volunteer unintentionally after bumping into Mark whilst on a walk along the canal three years ago and is now a Trustee.
“ I am absolutely addicted! Canals offer recreation, wildlife and so much history. This new building is really important – we want to get in there as soon as possible and carry on passing the message about the amazing canal heritage to young people. I would recommend anybody to get involved with volunteering for RWT, it’s a fun and worthwhile way to spend spare time”
“We are always looking for people who are interested in canals to join our small charity based at Batchworth locks.” adds Mark,” We need help to run the shop and information centre, our boat trips, grounds maintenance and, of course, to help at Ricky Festival and at the new education centre. We need to raise another £50,000 to get the centre built. The Festival will bring in a chunk of it so the more people who come the better! And people can help us reach our target by buying £10 shares in logs for the building.- We can claim tax back so each £10 share contributes £12.50 towards the building. There’s a form on our website.”
If you do make it to Ricky Festival the weekend of 19 and 20 May, don’t forget to throw some cash into those shaking buckets!
All Information on RWT, log share form and Ricky Festival at www.rwt.org.uk