Vol­un­teer wa­ter­way part­ner Jon Stopp brings bird boxes and benches to the tow­paths

Canal Boat - - This Month -

Wa­ter­ways vol­un­teer Jon Stopp is help­ing to nu­ture na­ture on the net­work

1 What first at­tracted you to the wa­ter­ways? I lived by sea and rivers and all things that go with that for 15 years but in this con­text - vol­un­teer­ing on the wa­ter­way - be­ing fas­ci­nated by the en­gi­neer­ing and the her­itage and all the things that come with be­ing in a peaceful, tran­quil, ru­ral and ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment.

2 Where is your favourite view of the wa­ter? In the mid­dle of the Pont­cy­syllte Aqueduct tak­ing in the 360° vista or at the bot­tom of the busy Hat­ton flight on the Grand Union in sum­mer walk­ing up, or even the Marple Aqueduct on the Peak For­est which is my favourite bik­ing and walk­ing route lo­cally – and that’s where I did my helms­man train­ing.

3 What do the wa­ter­ways have to of­fer the coun­try? Al­most lim­it­less leisure time op­por­tu­ni­ties or a to­tal al­ter­na­tive life­style and you get to choose and, of course, it’s healthy and stress­free too.

4 Tell us about your boat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence… Not ex­ten­sive... lim­ited to fam­ily hol­i­day – River Shan­non boat­ing. I liked the tra­di­tion of re­ward­ing lock keep­ers with a bot­tle or can of Guinness. Mo­tor cruis­ing/ fish­ing off the Florida coast. Amer­i­can fish­ing is just un­real with sonar to find the fish and then lob six rods in and trawl away. In con­trast a bit of small boat sea/river fish­ing in Devon. Does Cor­nish surf­board­ing count?

5 Have you ever fallen in? No, but seen a few bik­ers es­pe­cially ne­go­ti­at­ing bridges – why not get off and walk!

6 What do the wa­ter­ways need most? Keep­ing them spe­cial but that doesn’t al­ways sit with hav­ing vis­i­tors and the de­sire to get more of them.

7 How long have you been a vol­un­teer? Six years pretty much from the in­cep­tion of Canal & River Trust and a bit be­fore­hand.

8 What were the ef­fects of the 2015 floods? Dev­as­tat­ing firstly from a pure en­gi­neer­ing per­spec­tive but eas­ily re­solved. De­sign it, fix the breach, fix the land­slide, pay for it, get onto the next one. Sec­ondly, and much more im­por­tantly, tackle the im­pact on the com­mu­nity and peo­ple’s lives – much harder to fix and you can’t buy your way out of it, and then de­spite all the flood al­le­vi­a­tion it will hap­pen again. No won­der it makes peo­ple want to leave, putting whole com­mu­ni­ties at risk of col­laps­ing.

9 De­scribe In­cred­i­ble Ed­i­ble Tod­mor­den Very pas­sion­ate and en­thu­si­as­tic lo­cal group en­cour­ag­ing com­mu­nity en­gage­ment through build­ing and main­tain­ing herb, fruit, veg­etable gar­dens ac­ces­si­ble to all and free. Will hap­pily tell the world about and share what they do so long as it’s all about Tod­mor­den. The ethos has been suc­cess­fully taken on board else­where with no com­mer­cial in­tent. They are sim­ply lovely peo­ple on a mis­sion.

10 How im­por­tant is canal wildlife? Fun­da­men­tal, its a barom­e­ter as it tells you whether the en­vi­ron­ment is healthy and friendly to live in and visit. No wildlife, no sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment. Watch­ing wildlife in un­usual lo­ca­tions such as king­fish­ers, wag­tails and herons in drab Manch­ester ur­ban wa­ter­ways def­i­nitely en­riches the ex­pe­ri­ence and brings home the ben­e­fits of hav­ing wildlife around.

11 And the wa­ter­side gar­dens? Not all canal lo­ca­tions are choco­late box wor­thy, wa­ter­side gar­dens can help change that and pro­vide a great source of com­mu­nity, mak­ing it a good friendly en­vi­ron­ment to visit or just sit and watch the world go by.

12 What has been your big­gest task? The vast num­ber of tasks to help the com­mu­nity re­cover so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally from the floods on Box­ing Day 2015. The list is al­most end­less and we’re not there yet.

13 What are your fond­est mem­o­ries on the cut? What­ever un­folds from to­mor­row, add it to the list.

14 What do you think of peo­ple on the wa­ter? Just what you’d ex­pect from a com­mu­nity like those shar­ing the won­ders of the canal net­work – boaters, walk­ers, an­glers, bik­ers, land res­i­dents, ca­noeists, tourists are all pas­sion­ate about their own bit and pre­pared to de­fend its ex­is­tence. Just don’t get in their way or sug­gest some­thing dif­fer­ent.

15 What is your proud­est achieve­ment? Too many to men­tion: fam­ily, life, busi­ness and vol­un­teer­ing. It’s great to be with peo­ple in an en­vi­ron­ment that gels and get­ting in­volved with the next one – on­ward and up­ward.

16 What would you like to see hap­pen to the wa­ter­ways in your life­time? Just keep­ing them go­ing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to en­joy and em­brac­ing com­mu­ni­ties in the net­work’s suc­cess. Just as a well known con­cep­tu­ally sim­i­lar or­gan­i­sa­tion says, for ev­ery­one for ever.

17 Do you own a boat? No, but of­ten helm some of CRT work­boat fleet.

18 What did you want to be aged 12? A Lon­don bus driver – par­tic­u­larly No 73 from Brix­ton to Tot­ten­ham. It’s still run­ning so I haven’t given up yet.

19 Where in Bri­tain would you most like to sail? Not usu­ally one to do things twice ( ex­cept golf cour­ses) but many years ago en­joyed the Nor­folk Broads so there again please. Ex­pect mem­ory matches ex­pe­ri­ence – won­der if Roy’s of Wrox­ham is still there and the hol­i­day home lost to the sea.

20 What would your su­per­power be? The Tardis

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