Friday, February 21, 2014

Barge Restoration Project Gets Lottery Funding

A 100-year-old canal boat should soon be restored and back in the water thanks to a £168,000 grant from the UK National Lottery's Big Lottery Fund.

The barge, called Hazel, belongs to the Wooden Canal Boat Society (WCBS) and society members have already put over 30 years of work into the restoration project.

Hazel was built in 1914 and was donated to the WCBS in 1980. The society has already invested over £133,000 in trying to restore the barge to its former glory, but the project is still a work in progress so the Big Lottery Fund windfall will come in very useful.

All the money and effort put into Hazel's restoration will also benefit a good cause because when the barge is fully restored the society intends to use it to provide canal trips to people suffering from mental health problems.

The society hopes to have Hazel fully functional by the summer, but a lot of work is still required before the dream can become a reality and WCBS founder, Chris  Leah, is anxious to get things moving.

"We need to get cracking in order to have Hazel ready by the middle of the summer and time is racing on," Leah said.

Speaking of the importance of the Big Lottery Funds contribution to the project, WCBS trustee Nicolas Lowther said, "The Big Lottery Fund award will enable Hazel to play its role in bringing a sense of well-being to an increasing number of people living with, and recovering from, depression, anxiety and the associated impacts of social isolation."

The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for distributing 40% of the money the UK National Lottery sets aside for good causes. The money is used to provide assistance to community groups and projects that are believed to have a positive impact on health, education, and the environment.