Bruce Trust Administrator retires after 21 years
The Bruce Trust, based on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Great Bedwyn, that provides boating holidays for elderly people and people with disabilities and their carers has just completed its 21st season and Danese Rudd who has been the Trust Administrator since it began has decided that it is time to retire from the role.
Bruce Trust founder, David Bruce, with Danese Rudd, left who has retired as Administrator after 21 years and
his daughter, Rebecca who has taken over her job.
David Bruce said, "Danese has put her heart and soul into her work and she has achieved so much over the years. We are very pleased that she will continue with her voluntary work with the Trust."
Danese’s role evolved naturally as the Trust grew and her responsibilities have been many and varied: fundraising, design and building of new boats, marketing, bookings and administration, recruitment, organising a rota for voluntary helpers, weekend training courses, dealing with call-outs and winter maintenance are just a few tasks that the job entailed.
The Trust started with one boat, The Rebecca, in 1988, and the fleet has been increased to four boats through the sheer hard work and determination of Danese and the Trustees.
And now ready to face the challenge of filling Danese’s boots is her replacement, Rebecca Bruce, who was only 4 years old when the Trust was created and after whom the first boat was named.
Since leaving University Rebecca has worked in the charity sector and she pitched in as a volunteer this season — getting to know things from the bottom up.
Rebecca said, "I am really looking forward to continuing the efficient running of the fleet and we are also looking to expand the Trust. At the moment we are researching the feasibility of building log cabins and campervans, so that even more people with disabilities can enjoy holidays with The Bruce Trust in the future."
The History of The Bruce Trust
The Bruce Trust was formed in 1988 by Louise and David Bruce after they sold their chain of Firkin Pubs in London.
They were keen to plough some of the proceeds into a project that would benefit the community and they had become intrigued by the possibility of offering self-catering holidays to disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people cruising on the Kennet & Avon Canal.
After much research they initially put their own money into the project — and over the years they have received many generous donations to the Trust enabling the fleet to be increased to four specially-designed, purpose-built, wide-beam canal boats.
The Bruce Trust specially adapted wheelchair-friendly wide-beam trip boat 'Diana' passes Pewsey Wharf: Picture by Bob Naylor
The extra width of the boats gives plenty of space for wheelchair users to manoeuvre and the boats have special built-in facilities, including hydraulic lifts, wide-access boarding ramps, low-level bunks, heating and specially fitted showers and toilets.
Rebecca, Hannah and Diana have been designed so that wheelchair users can steer the boat using the tiller and both Hannah and Rachel have been fitted with a remote steering device that enables people with less upper body mobility to steer from their wheelchair using a joystick.
The Bruce Trust has enabled more that 11,000 disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people together with their carers, friends or family to enjoy participative canal-cruising holidays on the boats - as one family explained, “With increasing age and disability my father Harry’s days of enjoying canal holidays seemed to be over. But last week, there he was rising up on the lift to take the tiller once again and having a wonderful holiday with four generations of his family”.
The holiday makers are helped on their way by the dedication of over 70 voluntary helpers who make sure that the Trust can operate in the best and most economical fashion.
Some volunteers also crew day trips — this year more that 500 people from day centres or residential homes for the elderly were able to enjoy a day of peaceful cruising on the canal.
Address: PO Box 21, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 9YY
Telephone: 01264 356451