THE Avon Navigation Trust has picked up top prize in the Towpath Talk national competition, sponsored by Alvechurch-based canal boat business ABC Leisure Group.
The aim was to find the unsung volunteers of the towpath, canal or river, waterways association or community boat, with the winners awarded a cheque of £100 and trophy.
The volunteers from ANT were voted Top Team by both a panel of judges and the readers of the Towpath Talk publication.
And they duly decided to spend their winnings on new equipment for the staff.
Their chairman Paul Cronin said receiving the award was ‘one of the most special moments I’ve enjoyed since my 23 years here’.
ANT’s volunteer recruitment director Nick Farr is in charge of attracting more volunteers for the Wyre Piddle-based Trust, which looks after the Avon and its boaters.
The number of people volunteering has been steadily rising from a loyal handful to more than 100 this year, helping to look after locks, moorings, support events and carry out river patrols.
Their most recent job involved replacing all 1,000 boards at Pershore’s recreation ground moorings.
A delighted Nick said: “We are thrilled to be recognised in this way, I am enormously proud of our Mobile Volunteer Team.
“All I have to do to gain more volunteers is explain that we’re a friendly bunch on a boat, who have a lot of fun doing non engineering maintenance… and people are hooked.”
Haley Hadley from ABC Leisure Group also praised the volunteers: “We are delighted to be involved with the awards and it’s great that ANT’s team won,” she said.
“A lot of our boaters enjoy the Avon, which they help to keep looking so lovely.”