NABO chairman Stella RIdgeway aims to improve the lot of boaters
Battling for boaters’ rights while loving her waterway life, Stella Ridgway has boating in her blood thanks to family
1 What first attracted you to the waterways? The way of life; the community; I subsequently discovered that my great grandfather was born and worked on a narrowboat in Middlewich, so it is obviously in my blood.
Which is your favourite canal or waterway? The Peak Forest Canal; you start in Ashton, go through the outskirts of Manchester and finish in Whaley Bridge with stunning views of the Peak District on the way; you also have the most picturesque set of locks in the Marple Flight as well as Marple Aqueduct.
Tell us about your boating experience... Not as much as we would like as my illness has put paid to our cruising; we have done the Cheshire Ring. I sailed yachts as a teenager in New Zealand.
What do the waterways have to offer the country? They are the green corridor across the country and offer a haven of peace.
What- do the waterways need most? They need passionate people who believe in their continuaion for future generations as well as a structured maintenance programme and improvement in the number of facilities and what is offered to boaters.
6 How long have you been involved with the National Association of Boat Owners? For three years; we joined after the new T& C were published.
What can NABO do to help the waterways? We represent our members’ views at the highest level with the appropriate waterways authorities. We are member-led and members represent members.
Is there anything you’d particularly like to achieve while you are chairman? Enhance the awareness of NABO in the boating population to increase membership.
What do you think of the Canal & River Trust? Like any large organisation going through change, there is room for improvement. They can be siloed in mentality, which can then equate to difficulties; especially concerning boaters. On the whole they are trying to change their mentality and we are all customers now.
What are your fondest waterways memories?
For many years, we lived next to the Bridgewater Canal; walking to Dunham Massey one winter day, we were followed by a robin who chirruped at us. It probably would not have happened on a street.
Who would be your ideal cruising companion? I already have one...my husband Chris.
Have you ever fallen in? No.
What did you want to be aged 12? A teacher.
What do you think of people on the canals? It is a microcosm of society; albeit a bit more Bohemian. There are
coalboats, traders, boaters who only get the chance to cruise at weekends, boaters who live in marinas, boaters who cruise, boaters who are at online moorings, hire boaters; but we all share one thing – we love the waterways and wish to preserve our way of life.
What is the best time of day on the waterways? Early morning, at sunrise when the mist is rising on the water. It’s magical.
What is your proudest achievement? Apart from the birth of my two children; graduating with a 2:1 honours science degree aged 40 ( I was shattered at the end of it).
Where would you like to go on a dream cruise? Around New Zealand.
What are you reading at the moment? A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale.
Tell us about your spare time interests... Walking our two Labradors; reading and playing online strategy war games.
What super power would you like to possess? Time travel.
Picturesque – the Peak Forest Canal at Marple’s locks