Waterways hero

149. George Rogers (Matlock)

A 23 year old man from Matlock has worked on over 500 miles of UK waterways restoration schemes and now leads canal ‘camps’ for people to help build their confidence and learn new skills.

George Rogers is a canal restoration volunteer and canal camp leader for Waterway Recovery Group (WRG). After a summer canal camp helped George build his confidence five years ago, he was inspired to join the WRG to help others experience the same transformation.

As part of George’s role as a volunteer at WRG he helps to plan canal camps, focusing mainly on construction projects such as a new bridge and a new lock on the Chesterfield Canal. The camps consist of groups of 16-18 volunteers of different ages and backgrounds, and George plays a key part in building the confidence and skills of the group with specialist training and on- the-job practice and experience.

The camps, which George runs during his annual leave, sees him involved in all aspects of planning – such as working with the local restoration society to write risk assessments and strategies for restoration work. At weekends, in his canal restoration volunteer role, George helps with anything from clearing up greenery in the waterways to repairing a derelict lock chamber so that more people can enjoy the waterways and get outdoors. Thanks to him, over 100 volunteers also have the skills and experience to help them gain employment.

George also joined the committee for his local organisation, the Friends of the Cromford Canal committee in April 2010 having seen their request for a new webmaster. He took over and rebuilt their entire website, which he now coordinates and continues to develop along with a team of three volunteers who now also work on the website. With his experience of working with the WRG, George also now acts as a local coordinator for canal camps and weekends taking place within his area.

George is also one of thirty ambassadors for Volunteers Week, an annual event co-ordinated by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which celebrates the contribution volunteers make across the country.

Prime Minister, David Cameron said:

“Through his work, George is helping to safeguard the heritage and culture of Britain’s canals for future generations, which is of great importance. He truly deserves this Point of Light award.”

George said:

“Restoring the canals has long been my passion, and it is somewhat humbling to be recognised for something that I enjoy so much. The short and long term benefits to the other volunteers and the wider community make it a truly rewarding experience. This award also represents my firm belief that all volunteering is equally important – whether it be restoring the canals, building a school in Africa or mowing an elderly neighbour’s lawn, volunteering is the bedrock of society and I only wish I could do more.”

Patrick McLoughlin MP said:

“I was delighted to hear about George’s award. Volunteering is a valuable way for anyone to spend time, but it is particularly welcome to hear of a young man encouraging other people to take part too. Canals provide opportunities for leisure and exercise but need regular maintenance. I am sure the workers in George’s teams find it really satisfying to see tangible improvements, which are appreciated by everyone using canals and the surrounding areas.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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