The event began with a warm welcome from the event’s host Lord German followed by a presentation from Ros Kerslake OBE, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund who not only highlighted the significant funding that has already been made available to canal restorations in the UK, but also assured attendees that the waterways are an area that the fund is keen to support moving forward.
IWA Trustee, Mike Palmer introduced the Waterways in Progress report and stressed the importance of the two-way relationship between restoration societies and their MPs. He also announced the launch of IWA’s new £100,000 Waterways in Progress Grant which is being funded through IWA legacies. The news of the grant was enthusiastically received by the attending trusts and societies. Details on how to apply for the Waterways in Progress grant can be found on the website.
It was then time to announce the IWA Parliamentarian of the Year. IWA Chairman, Ivor Caplan acknowledged all parliamentarians who have supported IWA throughout the year before introducing the shortlist of nominees for the award which included John Bercow, MP for Buckingham; Prime Minister, Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead; Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon; Lee Rowley, MP for NE Derbyshire and Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton SE who were all commended for their high level of support for the waterways within their constituencies. Ivor then announced that Andrew Bridgen, MP for NW Leicestershire was the worthy winner of the IWA Parliamentarian of the Year 2019 award. Mr Bridgen was particularly praised for his work with HS2 and limiting its impact on the Ashby Canal.
Commenting on the event, Ivor Caplan says: “This was a new format for our Parliamentarian of the Year event and offered attendees a welcome opportunity to network. Having so many MPs in attendance is further proof that support for our waterways is on the rise. Reports such as Waterways in Progress help to emphasise the many benefits that a waterway can bring to an area and hearing from Ros Kerslake that the National Lottery Heritage Fund is a firm believer in canal restoration is certainly heart-warming. Now is an exciting time for the UK’s waterways.”
He adds: “Andrew Bridgen is a very worthy winner of this year’s IWA Parliamentarian of the Year award. He has supported both the Ashby Canal Trust and the Ashby Canal Association in what would have otherwise been very difficult circumstances. He has worked with the District and County Councils to help resolve progress issues and has also been instrumental in securing funding for the project. We are seeing more MPs getting involved in waterways restorations and really appreciate all the help and support they provide.”
This is the tenth year that the IWA Parliamentarian of the Year award has been given to a Member of Parliament who has shown unwavering support for the waterways. For more information, please visit www.waterways.org.uk.