HRH The Duke of Kent returned to the canal to present the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the Society in recognition of the work done by volunteers over 50 years in helping restore and maintain the Basingstoke Canal for the benefit of the local community and visitors alike.
It was particularly appropriate that The Duke attended this event since he formally opened the Canal when restoration was completed in 1991. The presentation took place at the Canal Centre at Mytchett, Surrey with around 60 Society volunteers representing the many hundreds who have helped over the years.
The Award also recognises the Society’s continued work to support the canal, including the operation of two trip boats which over the years have brought in about £800,000, monies which are used to fund maintenance and new projects.
Accompanying HRH The Duke of Kent was the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux (above, left). The Duke was introduced by the Chairman of the Canal Society, Philip Riley, to some of the 200 current volunteers, including the work parties who do some of the building project work, the crew of the trip boats and volunteers who support the sales and promotional work. He also had the opportunity to go aboard the John Pinkerton II 50-passenger trip boat, which was moored at the Canal Centre. There was no time to go for a trip but it gave HRH a chance to compare the new boat with the original “John Pinkerton” which took him for a trip in 1991. He then presented the glass trophy to Kevin Redway (above), one of the Society’s longest serving volunteers, who recalled that he had fallen in the canal for the first time at the age of 3.
In accepting the QAVS award, Mr Riley explained how when restoration of the Canal began, no-one knew how to do it, how long it would take or how much it would cost, but the early volunteers nevertheless all shared a passionate commitment to see the job completed. He said that having undertaken this huge effort, the Society membership have great affection for the Canal and wish to see it prosper and develop. On behalf of the Society, he expressed his sincere thanks for the award.