Volunteers pile in to help clean up canal through Milton Keynes

Parks Trust volunteers at canal clean up
Parks Trust volunteers at canal clean up

Scouts were among the volunteers who helped in a canal clean-up in Milton Keynes.

The Milton Keynes Branch of the Inland Waterways Association held its second canal clean-up of 2018. The event focussed on the Grand Union Canal from Fenny Lock, Bletchley to Grove Lock, just south of Leighton Buzzard, on October 12 and 13.

The branch were supported by the Canal and River Trust (CRT), who provided safety equipment, workboats and a dredger with crew.

James Griffin of Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd provided his usual stalwart support, sponsoring the event, supplying specialised equipment, and skippering Ocean Princess as tug for the hopper, whose crew recovered the usual haul of scrap and discarded and dumped goods from the canal.

On the first day the team were joined by 11 volunteers from The Parks Trust, who worked through their areas of responsibility adjacent to the canal, and also by volunteers from CRT, led by their new volunteer co-ordinator, Laura Summerbell. The CRT volunteers welcomed the chance to get better acquainted with their waterway.

With IWA members and the public, the helpers numbered 43, a possible record for the event.

On Saturday there were fewer helpeds but compensated by the attendance of members of 1st Linslade Scouts who pitched in with great enthusiasm and worked hard until they finished opposite Tiddenfoot Park.

Volunteers scoured the towpath and hedges adjacent, gathering general rubbish and piling larger items for collection by the hopper crew. Supermarket trolleys also featured, pulled from the canal in Leighton Buzzard.

A spokesmand said: “The work was supported by powered assistance from Athina Beckett and Jonathan Brown on their narrowboat Brown Trout, towing a pan (shallow draught workboat) from which its crew could tackle the offside vegetation and rubbish. Diane and Andy Witts provided much-needed refreshment from their boat DiAndy, a valuable source of tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits.

“Thanks are also due to Pat Titmas, who did a great job in mustering volunteers, several of whom have declared their interest in the next clean-up. This will be back in Milton Keynes next spring, when we hope to be joined by local businesses, fulfilling their community work programmes.

“Finally, of course, a big thank-you to all the volunteers on the two days, who once again helped improve the canal, its environs and overall quality for all to enjoy. It was all worthwhile; the encouraging comments of the many who came past us, with families or otherwise, gave due testimony to the input from all involved.”