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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New man at the top on the K&A

by Di Harris

The Kennet & Avon Canal now has a new manager in post — and following the recent re-organisation of the charity his role is now customer focussed and substantially different from that of the previous engineering-focussed waterway manager.

Kennet & Avaon Canal manager, Mark Evans. Picture by Bob Naylor:WaterMarx©

Mark Evans joined the Canal and River Trust as the new Waterway Manager for the Kennet and Avon and Bridgewater and Taunton Canals in April and he is responsible for the day-to-day running of the canal. He will be working with all users of the canal as well as the waterside communities and various other organisations that are concerned with the canal.

Mark said, “I’m set a strategy by CRT and I‘m working out how that strategy will work locally on the K&A as well as how I can deliver what I need to deliver to everyone who uses the canal.”

He added, “My responsibility as Waterway Manager is to make sure the canal and the towpath is there for everybody to use. The canal needs to have the right amount of water in it, all the locks working and all the pumps working. If there are problems, people need to know why and it’s my role to make sure they do.”

But in his first few weeks Mark has discovered that there is more to the job than just keeping a canal running. There are several other issues that need to be addressed and he is developing a strategy to deal with them.

Mark has an Estates Management background, but his experience covers much of what he expects to meet in his new job.  He has worked with Scheduled Ancient Monuments and managed restoration projects, including refurbishing a canal lock. His previous work has also included community-based environmental projects and engaging young and unemployed people.

Since arriving in Devizes, Mark has started to explore the canal and visited both Bristol and Reading, meeting people along the way. He plans to spend a weekend cruising on the K&A and has already been out meeting CRT volunteers in Bradford on Avon and on the Caen Hill Flight in Devizes.

CRT takes volunteering very seriously, and Mark says that his experience of watching volunteer lock keepers interacting with the public made him proud to be the Waterway Manager. “They are great PR and ambassadors for the canal itself and for CRT”, he said.

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