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New chapter for New Horizons

Matthew Corrigan

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Stockport Canal Boat TrustNew HorizonsMarple WharfSue WoodgateMarpleNarrowboat

New Horizons set to embark on new chapter

A new chapter is set to open for the Stockport Canal Boat Trust as 'New Horizons' is made ready for the 2017 season.

With the first signs of Spring already appearing, it's all hands to the pump at Marple Wharf. In February New Horizons, the Trust's 70ft narrowboat, was taken to a specialist facility at Kerridge, where she was dry docked and comprehensively inspected. Canals present their own set of unique problems; boats can suffer with a build-up of algae and the corrosive effects of chemicals present in the water. Every two years narrowboats must have their hulls 'blacked' with a distinctive, bitumen-based paint.

Duly refurbished and given a clean bill of health, New Horizons returned home. Technicians then set about the week-long job of installing her new wheelchair lift, replacing the old one after 35 years of use. Paid for with funds raised by the community, the lift enables passengers with mobility problems to access the lounge area.

Now in her 36th year of cruising, the boat has become a familiar sight on the waterways. One of the largest vessels on the local network, she always attracts attention as she makes her sedate way along either the Macclesfield or Peak Forest Canals. Adapted to cater for the needs of people with disabilities, she has proved highly popular with care homes, schools and disability groups. Last year alone she carried 2800 passengers.

Her season will begin with an Open Event over the Easter Weekend. The Trust will be providing short taster trips, demonstrating how the boat is used and the facilities she has aboard. A range of home-made produce will be available for sale, as well as towels and gifts knitted by trust members. Money raised on the day will help keep this vital community asset afloat.

2017 sees the arrival of a new chairman. Sue Woodgate moved to Marple from Warwickshire in 1999. A qualified skipper, Sue has boating in her blood and once part-owned her own narrowboat. Having recently retired from a long career in children's services, she was the natural choice to take over. Her 34 years of boating experience, previous service as vice-chairman of the Trust and background in working with children with special educational needs ensures a safe pair of hands is taking over the helm. Friendly and approachable, Sue is enthusiastic about the year ahead.

The Trust will be attending all of Marple's 2017 festivals and fairs. They are always interested in talking to volunteers, and would very much like to hear from people who may be considered to have a disability. Anyone wishing to get involved can find details at  or by attending the event at Marple Wharf on 16/17 April.