Canals and veterans come together as ‘Heritage Heroes’ is awarded £1/2 million dream fund

Ex-service men and women will soon be working on canal restoration projects like this lock on the Co

Ex-service men and women will soon be working on canal restoration projects like this lock on the Cotswold Canals - Credit: Archant

The UK’s canals and heroic veterans are the winners in People’s Postcode Lottery’s ‘Dream Fund’. Leading charities Canal & River Trust and Help for Heroes were delighted to receive the £500,000 award for their ‘Heritage Heroes’ project at a gala awards ceremony held on 28 January in Edinburgh.

The Trust and Help for Heroes have come together for the first time with an ambitious plan to help change the lives of ex-servicemen and women through a programme of canal restoration that will transform waterways across England in the process.

Leaving the military can be a daunting process, particularly for those who have sustained an injury or have an illness. Starting a new career and moving in a new direction can be especially difficult. Susan Turnbull, head of career recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “This project has afforded us the opportunity to help rebuild the lives of countless wounded injured and sick servicemen, women and veterans who remain highly skilled and motivated, whilst also restoring our forgotten canals.

The project will help ex-servicemen or women gain an accredited qualification as they recruit volunteers to help transform the waterways. Around 200,000 local people will be involved through events, walks, education programmes and other activities.

Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Heritage Heroes will make such a difference to the lives of so many and I am delighted that as a result of support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery that this dream can now become a reality.”

Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said: “The project will teach the ex-servicemen skills in land-based management and construction. Inspiring and working with volunteers they will be rebuilding locks, restoring canal-side hedgerows, making repairs to canal heritage and getting thousands of local people to connect with their local waterway.”

The project is mutually beneficial as it is extremely helpful to the ex servicemen and women and in the process leads to the improvement of our nations canals. Leaving the military after a long career can be distressing in many ways. This project will hopefully go a long way in helping to restore a sense of purpose.

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