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Volunteers in effort to keep Stillwaters afloat.
Friday 20th June 2014 @ 13:23 by Anna Fletcher

Public trips aboard Ashton’s Portland Basin’s favourite passenger canal boat could hit dry land, volunteers fear.

The canal boat Stillwaters has specialised in offering charter trips to thedisadvantaged and disabled across the borough, while at bank holidays and weekends it has provided packed trips to the public.

But the trips have only been made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Tameside Canal Boats Trust team.

The Trust members have been offering their services along the canal for more than 13 years and the trips have always proved very popular, as well as educational.

However, those trips could come to an end with the trust unable to continue operating alone, leaving passionate volunteers heartbroken.
Mark Nield, Trustee and Boat Master said he is devastated that his years of dedication to the community may be lost if the trips don’t continue.

“It’ll be catastrophic for the community to lose Stillwaters, she is still so popular,” he said.

“The team we have here love what they do, we do all this off our own backs and we don’t want to lose what we have put years of work into.”
Volunteers travel from as far as Yorkshire to assist with the trips.

Mark emphasises that the work put into the barge is completely voluntary as Tameside Canal Boats Trust receives no funding.

Any profits that their trips bring in goes straight back into the trust fund.

‘Stillwaters’ is very popular and a firm favourite with the public as the latest busy bank holiday revealed at the end of May.

Trip after trip along the canal saw the 47 seat barge full to capacity with happy and enthusiastic trip-goers.

For the moment, Stillwaters is continuing her public trips from Portland Basin every Sunday, but come August Stillwaters could be set to mirror her name.

Like-for-like charity the East Manchester Canal Boat Project are in negotiations with The Tameside Canal Boats Trust to come to the canal boat’s rescue and safeguard her future by taking on responsibility for her.

However, restrictions to their constitution mean that running public trips might not be possible.

EMCBP is a charity that is solely dedicated to the enrichment of disabled and disadvantaged groups, something they have been doing for the past 20 years.

Nigel Anderson, President of EMCBP said: “We are delighted that our neighbours wanted us to help them, we are taking steps to try and support the people of Tameside that formally used and loved the boat.”

Discussions between the two parties are still ongoing to ensure that some aspect of what Stillwaters has to offer remains at Portland Basin.