When the, ‘Wooden Canal Boat Society’ (owners of the UK’s second largest collection of working wooden canal boats) was given the wonderful gift of ‘Hazel’ – a 100 year old barge back in the 1980s, they simply had to get her back on the water. But this was going to be no easy task, Hazel was in a poor state and it was going to take painstaking time, manpower, volunteers and of course the one thing that unfortunately doesn’t run as freely as water – money.
‘New Lives from Old Boats’
‘New Lives from Old Boats’ has remained at the very heart of the Wooden Canal Boat’s philosophy and good-old, ‘Hazel’ is certainly no exception when it comes to transforming the lives of those in need within the local area of Tameside. In fact, with enough care, charity and compassion she will most certainly serve her future time on Tameside’s waterways well – running therapeutic wellbeing trips for people suffering from mental health problems and some much sought-after respite for their carers. From her mooring in Portland Basin (nestled next to the region’s award-winning Portland Basin Museum), ‘Hazel’ will set sail along Ashton’s gently winding Canal through the local area of Fairfield.
Charity Donations are Hazel’s lifeline
Overall costs to rejuvenate this aging canal boat have sadly taken longer and cost significantly more than originally anticipated. Despite some National Lottery Funding, the project has had to rely extensively on invaluable volunteer work and vital donations – something which the desired Christmas launch date still relies so heavily upon. In fact, without such heartfelt monetary donations and the goodwill of those willing to give precious time the goal of launching ‘Hazel’ by the planned Christmas 2014 deadline may be too tight for comfort.
Captain Chris’ leading role
With Captain Chris Leah at both the restoration reins and Hazel’s future helm, the long arduous journey to return this century old vessel to her former glory is well and truly underway – however adequate funding remains a constant concern. Once returned to her former glory Hazel is set to uplift the lives of many suffering daily from mental conditions. The experience of travelling through inspiring waterways on-board such a wonderful canal boat as, ‘Hazel’ will undoubtedly steer her passengers in a positive direction.
Chris Leah actually founded the, ‘Wooden Canal Boat Society’ charity and it is his vision, along with the Wooden Canal Boat Society as a whole to add a little sparkle to Christmas with a seasonal unveiling and a new lease of life to so many by Easter 2015 as full services will hopefully begin.