Award to Canal Restoration Leader (Montgomery Canal)

 

The North-West and North Wales Region of the Inland Waterways Association has made an award to Mike Friend who for the last ten years has been leading the Shropshire Union Canal Society work parties in the restoration of the Montgomery Canal.
The award, the Tetlow Cup, was presented at the Society's work party on Sunday 19 May, in front of a party of volunteers of the Shropshire Union Canal Society who had been spending the morning grading and lining the canal at Redwith Bridge.

Covering an area from Ludlow to Anglesey and Carlisle, the Association's North-West Region is made up of four branches – Chester & District, Manchester, North Lancashire & Cumbria and Shrewsbury, District & North Wales – and includes canal restoration projects such as the Montgomery, Shrewsbury & Newport, Manchester Bolton & Bury, Lancaster, and Sankey (or St Helen's) Canals.
The trophy is awarded to someone other than a member of the Inland Waterways Association who has made a major contribution to the waterways over a period of time.
In presenting the award Alan Platt, Chairman of the North-West and North Wales Region and a Deputy National Chairman of the Inland Waterways Association referred to Mike Friend's ten years as work party organiser for Shropshire Union Canal Society.    He was thus largely responsible for their sterling work in the restoration of the Montgomery and maintaining the profile of the canal especially during the current period when outside funds are so hard to come by. This was echoed by Pat Wilson, Chairman of Shropshire Union Canal Society and by Michael Limbrey of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust. Mike in his turn paid tribute to the volunteers themselves and especially to Jan, his wife, for her patience and support.
Speaking after the presentation Alan Platt said, “Our awards recognise the contributions that people make to the life of our waterways. Where years ago, navigable canals and rivers were facing neglect and worse, today our waterway network is thriving and busy, connecting London and Llangollen with Liverpool and Manchester, Lincoln and York. As many boats as ever now use our canals for pleasure, the towpath being used by anglers and ramblers, and their built and natural heritage are widely appreciated as adding to the quality of life in town and countryside.

“For over ten years Mike Friend has been leading the Shropshire Union Canal Society in their most challenging task in over forty years of restoration work on the Montgomery Canal. The Society's volunteers have been working to bring boats back to 500 yards of the canal below Redwith Bridge, a length which has been dry and derelict since the canal was abandoned many years ago. For the last five years, they have been restoring the shape of the canal, then laying lining and protective blocks with techniques and materials unknown to the navvies who built the canal 200 years ago.
“When this length of canal has been finished, there will just be two and a half miles to restore to bring boats to Llanymynech where the Heritage Area will make an attractive destination. After that we can move to reopening the canal to Arddleen, and bring boats back to Welshpool.
“We will shortly be inviting the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the restoration again. Other support has come over the years from Shropshire and Powys County Councils and others, and they have all recognised the benefits the Montgomery Canal can bring to the borders of Shropshire and Montgomeryshire as an attraction for residents and visitors, and a catalyst for business and employment.

“While restoration has gone forward whenever this support has been available, volunteers from the Shropshire Union Canal Society have been at work every year, usually with other work by the Inland Waterways Association's Waterway Recovery Group. Together they have brought many hundreds of volunteers to the canal, of all ages, from across the country and beyond. And of course they would not have been able to do all this without the leadership of people like Mike Friend, and we are delighted to be able to recognise this with our award.”

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Michael Michael

Severn Magazine and Love Shrewsbury Editor.

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