4 years old to 92 years young - that is the age range of our guests helping us work the locks and steer the barge. We invite guests ranging from life limiting illness - physically disabled - learning difficulties - disadvantaged, through to the elderly and infirm.
This year, 291 guests in 27 groups from 19 different organisations enjoyed a day on the Kennet and Avon Canal thanks to the efforts of our friends and members volunteering to crew.
Most of those guests helped to steer the Barge and to operate the locks and bridges whilst a few preferred to just enjoy the peace and beauty of the canal.
The trips run for 28 consecutive days through late June to early July. We have a different group every day with some staying overnight on board but departing before the next group arrive.
The reactions on the day, comments in the daily log, and the thank you notes we receive make you realise how much they both enjoy and gain from the time spent on the barge. The volunteers crewing also get a great deal from the days by helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
In all we opened about 1,000 lock gates and bridges in the 233 miles we travelled (that assumes we went in the centre of the canal all the time!)
We could not do this without the help of family and friends within the community who volunteer to crew the barge. We need to fill 108 crew slots. Half of those slots are filled by those volunteers and the rest are filled by our members of The Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper.
The barge, Hannah, is rented from The Bruce Trust and is designed to be used by wheelchair users. It is fitted with a “joy stick” steering facility, which our Rotary Club financed a few years ago, to enable those who are not strong enough to use the tiller, to steer the Barge.
Our Club also purchased inflatable life jackets to ensure those using the barge are both comfortable and safe.