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Volunteer with us

The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust has won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which was presented to the Trust by the Princess Royal in 2014. This is the MBE for volunteer groups. We are always looking for volunteers to crew the Barbara McLellan and carry out other activities for the Trust. The Barbara McLellan is run, crewed and maintained entirely by volunteers. As the boat is a registered passenger vessel there is a formal structure to training and qualification of crew. The main crew roles on the boat are as follows:

  • Skipper (official title is “Boatmaster”; the boat “captain”)
  • Mate (an experienced crew member who assists the Skipper)
  • Crew (works in the galley and bar and helps with operating the lock and mooring)
  • Trainee

Whilst there are designated crew roles, we work as a close team and share the work. We encourage crew to swap around – so you won’t be stuck in the galley for the whole trip unless you choose to be! Until qualified as a senior crew member, you will be supervised if on the helm (steering the boat).

Regardless of previous experience, all crew members are required to undergo an induction and attend a half-day “hands on” safety training session. Following this, new volunteers can act as crew members. Continuous further training is provided and volunteers can then qualify as a Mate. Training is also provided for aspiring Skippers which leads to examination and qualification by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

There are a lot of other roles involved in running and maintaining the boat so a wide range of skills and experience is needed.  For example, in addition to crewing on the boat we’d be delighted if you were interested in helping with any of the following…

  • Boat maintenance
  • Photography
  • Signwriting

Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills. Our flexible approach allows volunteers to do as much or as little as they wish to suit their own availability.

If you are interested in volunteering on the Barbara McLellan, please email Tony Wray, our Crew Manager, at  Tony will be happy to show you round the boat or to invite you onto one of our trips so you can see what we do and what it’s like to be a crew volunteer on the Barbara McLellan.