Canal and River Trust Wiltshire
1889. Thelma Edwards
Thelma Edwards, from Devizes, has been a dedicated champion for the 'Canal and River Trust' in Wiltshire for the past decade, giving over 2,500 hours of her time to lead work for the charity at Caen Hill.
As a retired health professional, Thelma first started out volunteering as a lock keeper assisting boats through the 29 Caen Hill Locks, quickly becoming instrumental to the charity in leading its visitor welcome services, training and mentoring new volunteers and managing activities such as children’s craft workshops and nature trails in neighbouring areas of woodland to help engage local children in the heritage of the canal and its wildlife. Thelma has particularly sought to champion the links between the environment and wellbeing, and helped developed new attractions and projects to ensure the charity continues to reach out to young people, such as creating a junior lock keeper project to give young people experience of looking after the canal.
In a personal letter to Thelma, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“You have given an astonishing 2500 hours of your time to preserving the beautiful waterways and countryside of Caen Hill. From maintaining the locks, to providing volunteering opportunities for others and creating nature trails for local children, you are helping people feel proud and engaged in their local community.
“It is thanks to volunteers like you that Britain’s heritage and culture of canal boating is being safeguarding for future generations.”
Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes, said:
“I am delighted for Thelma that the Prime Minister has recognised her contribution to the community here in Devizes. She is fantastically dedicated volunteer and her enthusiasm and professionalism are an inspiration. I’m very grateful to her – and all the volunteers at the Canal and River Trust and the team at Caen Hill – for all she does to keep our wonderful historic canal open and in use by so many people.”
“I have been volunteering for the ‘Canal and River Trust’ now for 10 years and undertaken various roles. As a retired health professional, it has been rewarding to have the opportunity to continue to use my skills and experience as a volunteer. I have recently designed three Discovery Trails through the new Diamond Jubilee Wood to encourage our visitors to explore this beautiful addition to our Caen Hill visitor experience. I know the benefit exercise and being by water and in green spaces brings to our physical and mental health so enjoy ‘taking my own medicine’. Being a volunteer brings its own reward but receiving recognition for what comes naturally adds value to my work and, as I grow older, encourages me to keep going!”