4 February 2024

Mike was elected as a trustee in September 2022, having been a supporter of the Association for nearly forty years and a canal enthusiast all his adult life. Mike, who lives in York, is a Chartered Accountant and has a background in corporate reorganisation and management. More details and photos here.

Trustees also appointed three deputy national chairs, who will each act as co-ordinator for key aspects of the Association’s work:

  • Sue O’Hare is deputy chair for Navigation and Campaigns
  • Nick Dybeck is deputy chair for Waterway Restoration
  • Peter Marlow is deputy chair for Membership and the Environment

The Association plans to appoint a fourth deputy chair, to cover finance, later in the year.

As a result of the strategic review announced at the 2023 AGM, trustees have reaffirmed and updated the Association’s vision, mission and objectives with a renewed emphasis on its campaign work, and a renewed commitment to waterway restoration, with Waterway Recovery Group a key part of the Association’s operations. The Association has stabilised its finances, is working to reduce the complexity of its financial reporting and expects to show a modest surplus in its 2023 annual accounts. The strategic review included a members’ survey; the full results are shown here and also in the current edition of the Association’s members’ magazine Waterways.

Mike Wills said “Restoration has been key to provide the social and economic public benefits of a connected national inland waterways network. Times may be tough for navigation authorities now, but it is so important that we hold the faith with restoration groups and further develop the inland waterways for future generations. The next few years will see major challenges in maintaining and improving funding for navigation authorities and the sector in general, but IWA’s campaigning spirit and leadership of the inland waterways sector is already gathering support from leading politicians and other influential decision-makers. We wish to grow and develop our role in improving the environment and will build upon the ideas in our publication Waterways for Today, an excerpt of which is included in the current Waterways magazine”.

Trustees have agreed that IWA will not be appointing a CEO at this time. The Association will, however, be strengthening its campaigning capability by recruiting a Campaign Manager and Strategic Lead to work at the Association’s Chesham Head Office. Details are available here.

Immediate plans for 2024 include leading the major Fund Britain’s Waterways campaign alongside over one hundred waterway organisations, a reinvigorated Canalway Cavalcade and delivering WRG’s restoration working holidays, Canal Camps, which are back at full strength. A restoration conference is being held in April, and WRG’s training and weekend work parties continue apace.