The Mayor wishes Hazel well

Wednesday, 23rd March 2011, saw the launch of our innovative canal boat wellbeing project which was celebrated at Portland Basin Museum. The project is a partnership between Tameside Council’s Wellbeing and Prevention Service and the Wooden Canal Boat Society. Guest of honour on the day was the Civic Mayor Cllr Jean Brazil who heard speeches from both Chris Leah and Terry Harding before viewing Hazel and the other boats moored there.

Thanks to an Innovation Fund grant the Wooden Canal Boat Society will now be able to start work on the de-construction and restoration of our Wellbeing boat, Hazel, in May 2011. Much of the work to be done will be overseen by Chris Leah, a founder of the society, supported by a dedicated group of W.C.B.S staff and volunteers.

The Wooden Canal Boat Society has around 150 volunteers, some being either long term unemployed, in recovery from mental ill-health, elderly, sick or disabled. The society’s members, inspired by how much their own health and wellbeing has been improved by canal boating and volunteering, have set out to raise enough money to restore Hazel and to use her for the benefit others. The health and wellbeing of our volunteers will be improved by being given new responsibilities, taking part in restoration activities and achieving the long term goals of the project. Once restored Hazel will provide wellbeing day trips and short breaks to people from the local community, and in particular those needing a positive boost to their mental health.

The de-construction, charting and restoration of Hazel will be undertaken by Chris Leah and his team at the Wooden Canal Boat Society’s Heritage boat yard at Knowl Street, Stalybridge. Much of the work will be carried out by skilled specialist craftsmen, who will work alongside Chris, WCBS volunteers and members of the wider community. So far £26,600 has been raised by supporters to fund Hazel’s restoration.That  fund is now to be bolstered by the Innovation grant being provided by Tameside Council’s Wellbeing and Prevention Service. After the restoration Hazel will still need to be looked after by trained volunteers, who will still need to continue to raise further funds to help pay for her ongoing upkeep and the maintenance of the society’s other historic boats.

To find out more about the Wooden Canal Boat Society and its aims please continue to browse our website and contact us if you would like to help.

More information:
For the past 16 years, the Wooden Canal Boat Society, its volunteers and supporters have been working at restoring and preserving its 6 historic wooden canal boats. The boats are all in the National Historic Ships Register, and are currently moored at Portland Basin Museum, Ashton-Under-Lyne. Far from being static museum pieces, they are used as working boats for the benefit of the wider community, including twice monthly recycling trips to Droylsden. Goods that are collected by volunteers on these trips are transported back to Portland Basin by boat and either recycled or sold at the Charity’s Stamford Street shop in Ashton-Under-Lyne. The money raised is used to maintain and restore the boats.

Tameside Council’s Civic Mayor, Cllr Jean Brazil, wrote in her online blog…

“On Wednesday afternoon, Sydney and I attended an event at Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne for the launch of a new Well Being Boat Project, at the invitation of the Wooden Canal Boat Society. Thanks in part to a Local Innovation Award grant, the Wooden Canal Boat Society has been able to start work to de-construct and rebuild their wellbeing boat “Hazel”.

Much of the work will be done by local volunteers whose health and wellbeing will benefit as a result of taking on meaningful activities and much-valued roles and responsibilities and, when completed, the boat will be used for community day trips and short breaks and particularly by people needing a boost to their mental health.

It really is a very exciting initiative which will give people who are finding it hard to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday living a whole new range of opportunities to get involved with. Sydney and I wish the project every success and look forward to seeing “Hazel” on our waterways in the not too distant future.”
http://www.tameside.gov.uk/mayor/blog/march11

At the event Terry Harding presented Chris Leah with a donation on behalf of supporters from the Romiley, Marple & District Lions Club.

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