HARDWORKING volunteer Derek Flexer is taking a well-earned rest from leading the local restoration of a former waterway.
The 55-year-old is stepping down as chairman of the Melksham,
Chippenham & Calne branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.
He became a familiar face after being elected in 2012, helping to
secure a series of awards as well as national and international
recognition of the charity’s work.
Derek was looking for a voluntary role which provided a physical
challenge and was drawn to the Canal Trust after seeing the restoration
He said: “The past three years have gone by in a flash but it’s been a very busy and immensely enjoyable time.
“I’ve tried to increase our professionalism in terms of organisation
and public presentation, proving that we can be trusted with restoring
this historic waterway.
“Unfortunately I might need to move away, which is why I’m stepping
down, but I’m sure I’ll find another way to help whatever happens.”
During every year of Derek’s chairmanship, the branch has received the
prestigious Tony Davy Award for donating the highest number of hours to
the restoration effort - last year they provided an impressive 6,594
In addition, Derek was presented with an international award from
former employer Motorola Solutions in recognition of his voluntary work
with the charity, and the increasing interest in the Lacock stretch
resulted in a feature on BBC TV’s popular ‘Escape to the Country’
Another sign of his success has been the growth in branch
membership from around 450 to more than 600 supporters, which has
enabled the charity to organise large-scale events such as the Pewsham
Open Days and the Melksham River Festival.
Many of the events and awards have been featured in national waterways magazines.
Derek said: “I’ve been delighted by the fantastic efforts of our
wonderful and enthusiastic team who have always worked so hard to bring
the canal back to life – turning out in all weathers at our workparties
or fundraising events, or working behind the scenes with the multitude
of meetings and reports.
“I am incredibly proud of everything that we’ve achieved together and I wish them all the best for the future.”
The new branch chairperson will be elected at the AGM in early June.
New members and volunteers
are always welcome; see more information on the websites: