Volunteers’ Week: Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Trust volunteer reveals why she gives up her spare time

The national Volunteers’ Week initiative is highlighting the efforts of those who give up their time across the country. Locally, there are a number of organisations that rely on these unsung heroes – including the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LHCRT)…

Christine Howles (bottom centre) taking part in the Lichfield Bower with the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust float

Christine Howles (bottom centre) taking part in the Lichfield Bower with the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust float

“I hope the canal will be finished by the time I retire, but if not at least I’ll be able to give more time to the cause!”

Christine Howles is one of a team who give up their spare time to restore a stretch of canal to its former glory.

But while many join their work groups to help lay the foundations and get water flowing once more, Christine is helping to spread the message of the work the group do to the digital generation.

She manages the group’s social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“I meet up with the sales and marketing team once a month and I try to get down to the canal each week to see the workparty volunteers – the ones who do the hard graft!

“While I’m there I take some photos of the workparty and their progress which I can use throughout the week. Volunteering has rejuvenated my love of photography too.

“The workparty volunteers are there three times a week and their ages range from 14 to a lot older!

“My latest adventure with LHCRT was to take part in the Lichfield Bower as a collector with the float. I met other Trust volunteers, some for the first time, and I walked eight miles that day, according to my pedometer. Although my feet complained, I did enjoy every minute.”

Volunteers working on canal restoration in Lichfield

Volunteers working on canal restoration in Lichfield

The Trust was set up in 1988 to campaign for the restoration of the Lichfield Canal and the Hatherton Canal.

Christine reveals that a walk inspired her to join the ranks of volunteers.

“I’d known about the canal for a long time and I always look, in awe, at the aqueduct over the M6 Toll as I pass by on the A5. But I hadn’t done anything about my curiosity until my new year’s walk.

“The stretch of the canal which inspired me is along the Tamworth Road and is known as Borrowcop Locks Canal Park. It’s the only section to have water at the moment and is already a pleasant walk, but will be beautiful when it’s complete and goes through Darnford Park.

“I really want to see the Lichfield Canal back in use. I want to be able to walk and cycle along it, see the boats and wildlife return to it and see the boost to Lichfield’s tourism as a result.”

Christine, who works in communications for a housing group, believes she is proof that volunteering can be a diverse experience.

“I expect people have all sorts of reasons to volunteer – having something to do during retirement, helping build a CV or wanting to give something back to the community.

“I started volunteering because I want to help rebuild the canal in Lichfield. It was partly for personal reasons as I live close by and want to be able to enjoy walking along the towpath, but looking at the bigger picture I know it will be good for Lichfield as a whole, with benefits for tourism and business.

“I started with no pre-conceptions of what it would be like to volunteer, I knew LHCRT wanted help with marketing and I had spotted that they definitely needed help with their social media.

“I have a full-time day job which takes up most of my week, but my volunteer work is always on my mind.

“I love what I do and I’m always planning what to do next for LHCRT.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.