Richard Parry, the CEO of the Canal and River Trust (extreme right, above) took part in a discussion at the Hay Festival yesterday. The subject was ‘Who Owns Britain’s Heritage?’. Richard was joined by Simon Thurley (English Heritage), Simon Hodgson (Forest Enterprise England), Simon Murray (National Trust) and Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan.

The four above named organisations are either newly formed charities (CRT), charities since their inception (National Trust) or are in the throes of change to some kind of charitable status (English Heritage and the Forestry Commission). So the discussion was really about how to look after all of Britain’s Heritage when the state is increasingly taking a back seat.

The CRT which became a charity in 2012 offers some kind of model to the FC and EH. Richard was pleased to see the similarities between the current very successful system that is in place at National Trust (a huge bank balance, 60,000 volunteers, large donations from the original backers in 1919, and the ownership of many assets) and the CRT which now gets 50,000 volunteer man-days per year, a 15 year guaranteed sum from government, owns many assets including a slice of Canary Wharf, and an annual income from those assets.

Richard was fulsome in his praise for the volunteers who now increasingly do the day to day work on Britain’s Canals. He said that they not only do the small but invaluable jobs such as litter picking and vegetation clearance but were now part of the Education programme in schools as well as acting as lock keepers. He said the volunteers were increasingly putting forward their own schemes and plans which would be supported by the expertise and experience of the CRT personnel.

 

Martin Davies caught up with Richard after the discussion and had his photo taken with him. Richard confirmed that he would be visiting the Swansea Canal on Wednesday July 23rd when the Waterways Recovery Group are with us at Trebanos Lock.

We look forward very much to showing him our beautiful canal.