Canal volunteer call

The canal towpath at Leigh on the stretch running towards Diamond Street

The canal towpath at Leigh on the stretch running towards Diamond Street

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THE new Canal and River Trust is asking Wigan communities to support an initiative aimed at transforming their local waterways.

The Trust, which recently took over the running of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales from British Waterways and is much more heavily reliant on volunteers, is sending out Towpath Taskforce teams to encourage folk to come out, get their hands dirty and help protect some of Greater Manchester’s most important industrial heritage.

The teams will provide regular practical volunteering opportunities and aim to bring significant benefits to waterside communities and the waterways themselves, most of which are between 200 and 250 years old, as well as preserving important wildlife habitats for the hundreds of different species which feed and nest on the waterways.

One of them will be on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath near the Kirkless Hall Inn, off Albion Drive, New Springs, this Tuesday between 10am and 3pm.

Matt Taylor, volunteer co-ordinator for the Canal and River Trust, said: “We’ve seen a massive rise in volunteering over the last four years and we want to provide easy opportunities for people to turn up to with no previous experience, meet existing volunteers and learn about other opportunities to get involved.

“We have volunteers from all walks of life who donate their time to us to get some exercise and help keep their local waterside community looking tidy because they recognise how important Greater Manchester’s canals and rivers are.

“Previously we’ve held annual Towpath Tidy events – however, these new Towpath Taskforce teams are designed to be regular, accessible and engaging so local communities can take on more ownership of their local waterway.

“One event a year can make a dent, but regular volunteer efforts will make a real difference to the thousands of people that use and visit them each week.

“There will be a variety of tasks specific to the need of the individual waterway and there’s always something to suit everyone.”

The Towpath Taskforce teams will undertake regular physical works on the towpath including painting lock gates, improving access to the towpath, clearing overgrown vegetation, cleaning up litter and graffiti.

Steve Broomhead, partnership chair for the Canal and River Trust’s North West region, said: “The waterways are a resource which we can all benefit from and by helping support these Towpath Taskforce teams, the public can help bring a wealth of added benefits to the daily maintenance work the Canal and River Trust teams do.

“Most of all, by getting involved, more people will appreciate their local waterway and help provide a lasting legacy that we can all be proud of so I’d encourage people to get in touch and find out how they can get involved.”

Dates for North West Towpath Taskforce will take place every Tuesday in Wigan. More details are available from www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/towpathtaskforce.