Full steam ahead for £200k fundraising campaign

As part of this campaign we are delighted to have enlisted the help of four patrons, being; Adam Porter, BBC 2 Radio News presenter; Richard Meynell, conservation architect; Gemma and Tony Caslin, owners of TJ Boardhire.

Adam Porter, who moved to the Chichester area in the mid 1990s, was the first news editor at Spirit FM, and helped to launch the station. He lives in Fishbourne and serves on the parish council.

Canals and boating are his passion. Adam and his partner have a narrowboat, which is moored in Northamptonshire.  He also writes for Canal Boat magazine.

He said: “It’s often said that canals spread their green fingers into cities. If you follow the towpath of Chichester Canal from the basin you almost don’t notice you are passing under the A27 and by the time you’re halfway to Hunston you already feel as if you are in the countryside.

“The history and heritage of the canals fascinate me. Their routes tell the stories of Industrialisation.

“Chichester Canal is a fantastic resource for the area. The towpath provides a safe walking route, while the canal itself is busy with canoes and kayaks, and the latest fitness craze, stand-up paddle boarding. It’s  vital the canal is preserved and maintained, and I’m delighted to help the trust promote its work.”

Award-winning local conservation architect, Richard Meynell, became architect to the Dean and Chapter of Chichester Cathedral in 1987 where he had responsibility for looking after the Cathedral Close properties ‘for about 30 years’.

He was also retained as a surveyor to the Fabric of St Mary’s Hospital, the Medieval Almshouses in the north eastern part of the city.

He was asked to help with the drawings and conversion of the Heritage Centre at the Canal Basin for which he won a heritage award. Having moved to the local area in 1949, he is also bestowed with the title ‘Freeman of Birdham’.

On Chichester Canal said: “I take my hat off to the volunteers. The amount of clearance work done by the volunteers is exemplary.

“I’m humbled by being asked to be a patron. I am just a local lad enjoying something which is close to my heart and where I live. I am looking forward to continuing my support, championing such a worthy cause and helping the trust to conserve, maintain and improve the heritage of the canal now and for generations in the future.”

TJ Boardhire owners, Gemma and Tony Caslin, said they have ‘always been well supported’ by the Chichester Ship Canal Trust and ‘see first-hand the dedication and hard work’ that the volunteers put into maintaining the canal.

Gemma and Tony have lived locally for many years raising their family whilst enjoying outdoor sports including windsurfing, mountain biking and snowboarding. However after a life-changing ski injury in 2013 and a year of rehab for Gemma, she and Tony chose to resume ‘low impact outdoor activity’ using paddleboards.

At the time stand up paddle (SUP) boarding was ‘very new’ but, ‘as interest grew’, they were asked to teach. In 2015, they set up their own business, TJ Boardhire and have been teaching on Chichester Canal ever since.

Tony said: “The canal is the ideal place to learn to paddle as it is very calm and sheltered, allowing our customers to learn and progress quickly. There are many positive health benefits associated with paddle boarding; being out on the tranquil water of the canal allows people to relax and unwind whilst learning a new and accessible sport.”

Gemma continued: “As the sport has grown we have adapted to the increasing demands by operating the Chichester SUP Club bringing together new and more experienced paddlers. We planned to enlist their support with the fundraising campaign and they are already coming up with some exciting ideas for the new year.”

Photo credits: Meryn Woodland and patrons

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