|Shrivenham, Watchfield, and Bourton Parish News. March 2009|
It's still all done by volunteers, with much support near and far! Small groups of volunteers have been turning up all through the winter months to support the continuing restoration of Steppingstone Lane Bridge - fortnightly doing mostly odd jobs as brickwork is difficult in bad weather. Talking about bad weather that snow meant we had to cancel the first major weekend visit of the year by restoration volunteers, they were coming from Kent and East Sussex! Never mind we have several more major visits in our diary.
Firstly there are two week long Waterway Recovery Group visits booked on the bridge, the first is for the two weeks either side of Easter; they are to concentrate on finishing the parapet walls, the west side has just one course to go, the scaffolding will then be transferred to the east side to build that wall. All of the materials are to hand and funds are still trickling in, some from local charities and a very generous grant of ?2000 from the Inland Waterways Association, more support, so here we go - the last big push!
Smaller weekend visits are also booked with WRG to do preparatory work. One job is to improve the vehicle access route to the site, we need to get large quantities of aggregates, donated by a well known local power company, to site to surface the road over the bridge but the lane is rutted and difficult for even small lorries so we have teams arriving to lay some crushed concrete, donated by another well known very local company,
Talking about access, the footpath route to the bridge from Station Road has been cleared, so the original Shrivenham circular path here is open again - but beware - it is very wet at the moment, not surprising, so wear your wellies! Yet another group of volunteers will be doing some refurbishments to the surface of the towpath between Station Road Bridge and Stainswick Lane to make walking and maintenance easier.
Lately local branch volunteers have been employed on the traditional winter job of hedging and scrub clearance. Although some had to be diverted onto maintenance to the towpaths and park, and the pleasing job of planting more shrubs and bulbs.
We have also had more good news; the parish council have agreed to finance their grass cutting contractor to help with the grass cutting at the park, most welcome, this will allow us more time to work on towpath maintenance. A local farmer also cut the roadside hedge at the park for us. Support, that's what it's all about and this is where you come in - despite recruiting several new active branch members we definitely need more local support - the paperwork, logistics and fundraising just for the bridge has pushed the few local branch volunteers right to their limits.
We still need help on all fronts, not just humping materials and grass cutting but with the paperwork, liaison with local authorities and landowners. Someone just to distribute leaflets, do lectures and talks, a wiz-kid on the computer to produce the artwork for publicity, displays and maps, there are urgent jobs for everyone. Please, just volunteer, it's a very worthwhile LOCAL cause linked to a great National Project, great camaraderie and good fun. Help can be done at home, no need to get muddy or to attend meetings, although to some of us that's part of the fun!
Like to help but can't spare the time, then just become a member: It costs from as little as £5, and helps us no end. It will also keep you right up to date on progress with your free members' quarterly magazine ‘The Dragonfly'. Give us a call and we'll pop some details through your door. Or stop for a chat when you spot one of our volunteers along the canal. Alternatively just turn up at our monthly meetings - 2nd Wednesday of each month, 8.00 pm at the Bowls Club, you'll be made most welcome. I'm sure you will find it interesting and the bar will be open!
The Trust itself is making great progress all over - just watch out for the news! We are in the local press almost every day! Mostly the ‘Adver' about the canal in the town centre. Did you see the photo of Steppingstone Bridge in TheTimes? And the double page spread in the Western Daily Press! Support on many fronts yet again!
It's not all digging in the mud, you know! BUT it is all done by volunteers, with a great deal of most welcome support! Thanks everyone.