The two Harrys: volunteer navvies

In this post for volunteers’ week I’ve got a guest blogger. This article originally appeared in the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust members magazine “Cut Both Ways” and I’ve been given permission to use it here. I wanted to post it because it shows two things; volunteering isn’t just for people who have retired and teenagers don’t deserve the reputation of being layabouts and trouble-makers.

This is Harry Ayto’s story about volunteering:

Harry Ayto (on the right) with fellow volunteerHarry Wem (left) both 14 years old.

Harry Ayto (on the right) with fellow volunteer Harry Wem (left), both 14 years old.

My name’s Harry Ayto and I’ve been working as a volunteer for the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust.

When I first started, we were working at ‘The Boat’ section where the work mainly involved chopping down trees and burning them on huge bonfires. Straight away I found the volunteering really fun and each week I would come back with rosy cheeks and a massive sense of achievement.

More recently we have moved on to the Tamworth Road section which is quite a lot more developed than ‘The Boat’ section. Here, the work consists of laying concrete, driving diggers and much more.

I enjoy the work so much that I decided to make a Lego model of the section we are currently working on.


Harry’s Lego model of the canal

It shows the digger and the dump truck moving earth away and some newly laid concrete the volunteers have put down. Also visible is the towpath, lock and the main pipes that carry the water.

So all in all, I think volunteering at the canal has given me a lot of valuable skills which I can talk about when applying for universities and jobs.

However, more importantly it’s simply fun – I volunteer with a friend (Harry Wem), meet new people and do work I would have never done before. What’s more, how many 14 year olds can say they’ve driven a digger, laid concrete down and built giant fires?

Harry Ayto, trainee “Navvie”


11 thoughts on “The two Harrys: volunteer navvies

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