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Two volunteers with 70 years between them honoured for work with canal trust

Two Lichfield Canal Trust volunteers with an age difference of over 70 years have been nominated for Support Staffordshire Awards.

Eric Wood
Eric Wood

Eric Wood, president of Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LHCRT), has been nominated for a lifetime achievement award, while Tom Wright has been nominated in the young volunteer of the year category.

The Volunteer Star Awards recognises the work of the many volunteers who contribute in Staffordshire.

Eric Wood, nominated for the lifetime achievement award by Christine Bull, LHCRT chairperson, had the vision in the 1980s to restore disused canal sections to provide a navigable link across the north of the West Midlands.

In 1988, he and four fellow waterways enthusiasts established what is now Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust and was its first chairman.

Christine said: "Eric relinquished the chair in 2001, aged 70, and has continued as our supremely valued and fervently interested and active president ever since.

"Eric’s amazing charisma, warmth, kindness, ability to enthuse others and his vision for the restoration of much of the old Wyrley & Essington Canal has brought so many people into volunteering with what is now much more than canal restoration as, probably more importantly, it is creating a green corridor for wildlife and biodiversity and safe walking, cycling and jogging routes adjacent to so much of the new housing developments."

Volunteer Tom Wright

Tom Wright started volunteering with LHCRT for his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award three years ago aged 14, and quickly progressed to working with the trust's small team on plant maintenance and use.

Christine, who nominated Tom, said: "In those three years he has certainly learned a great deal but perhaps more importantly for LHCRT he has been of immense help.

"He has learned how to weld, how to replace excavator tracks, about auto electrics and electronics, engine repair and plant maintenance, and, aged 16, gained his tractor licence so he can move plant between our sites."

She added: ""Tom works almost every Saturday from 9am until at least 3pm, often cycling the five miles from and back to his home. He is always on time, he puts in extra days when needed, especially in his school holidays and will do any task asked of him.

"We are not looking forward to when he goes off to university but he is such a great person that we will wish him well!”

The 2022 Lichfield District Volunteer Star Awards will take place on the evening of Monday, June 20, at the School House, Weeford.

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