Fund Britain's Waterways campaign reaches Northamptonshire

Narrowboat Rum'a'Gin is just one of many small boats taking a powerful message to urge the government to act now to Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW) before it’s too late. And, this week the campaign reaches Braunston.
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When Hazel and Richard Owen plus their two dogs set off from Yorkshire on narrowboat Rum’a’Gin, it wasn’t for messing about on the rivers. The pair are on a mission which will take them more than 353 miles, via 250 locks and through countless bridges before they eventually get to blast an unequivocal message at the Houses of Parliament.

Former NHS manager Hazel was one of those who formed the new FBW campaigning group and is a force to be reckoned with as she takes the fight to Westminster.

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“Waterways are not just a national asset, they play a crucial role in our economy, health and well-being, and the preservation of our environment. From flood management to being part of our industrial heritage, waterways have multifaceted benefits that need to be protected and maintained” she explains.

Hazel and Rum'a'Gin when they left Hatton in Warwickshire at the weekendHazel and Rum'a'Gin when they left Hatton in Warwickshire at the weekend
Hazel and Rum'a'Gin when they left Hatton in Warwickshire at the weekend

“However, funding cuts have already started to impact various waterways, and without adequate financial support, we risk the closure of these invaluable resources. It is imperative for the government to step up and provide the necessary funding to ensure the navigability of our current waterways, support restoration efforts, protect the environment, wildlife, and sustain the businesses that thrive due to the draw of these waterways for both tourists and locals alike.”

Rum’a’Gin - adorned with very noticeable campaign flags and banners - is being joined en route by other boats which will build an entire flotilla of narrowboats and cruisers by the time the group hits London.

“124 organisations have joined FBW and over 50,000 people have signed the petition. We are passionate about our waterways and environment. We are doing this for current and future generations to enjoy the waterways in whatever way they want, be that fishing, boating, paddleboarding, canoeing or just walking along the bank. All are pursuits that aid our health and wellbeing in a stress-free environment which in the long run could save the NHS money with fewer people requiring mental health services.

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“Not to mention the animals and beasties that make their home on the canal. If our canals become derelict, which they could do very quickly, none of this will be possible.”

During the journey south, Hazel intends to drum up support for the petition, hand out leaflets and spread the word about the unseen threat to one of the UK’s most undervalued green spaces.

Once on the Thames, the boats will assemble outside the Palace of Westminster on May 8 and blast their horns hoping to attract the attention of the decision makers inside.

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