Tenants get behind Blackwater River clean-up operation

Several people in safety gear stand on a river boat.
From left - Andrew Trotter, Blackwater Community Barge Project; the Housing Executive's Michelle Hazlett, Sharon Crooks, and Amy Hall; and Kevyn McCarney of Blackwater Community Barge Project.

Housing Executive tenants have been busy volunteering with Blackwater Community Barge Project, in a bid to clear the riverbanks

Thanks to a recent Community Grant allocation of £1,399, the non-for-profit group has been able to purchase technical equipment to help tidy the area.

Blackwater Community Barge Project aims to give everyone the opportunity to experience being on and working on the Blackwater River.

To date, all of the volunteers have come from Housing Executive homes and this project enables residents to have a boating experience, which they may not have had access to before.

It also brings together people from different ethnic and social backgrounds to achieve a common goal and learning experience. 

Andrew Trotter from Blackwater Community Barge Project thanked the Housing Executive for providing financial assistance that has helped to fund the environmental works. 

He said; “Great ideas and well-meaning ventures are good on their own, but it takes financial support to get them off the ground. 

“We have started a programme of maintenance around the entrance to the Ulster Canal on the Blackwater River and are hoping to maintain and promote this stretch of river with conservation and close river management. 

“We have secured a custom built wheel boat which we are at the minute, training up skippers and crew for.”

“This boat is suitable for all abilities of guests, regardless of anyone’s physical or mental abilities we will be able to accommodate them for a trip up and down the river and hopefully improve everybody’s happiness and well-being.”

Blackwater Community Barge Project is also aiming to encourage an interest in the local history of the Ulster Canal – while improving the area.

Spanning two counties and through the rural settlements of Tamnamore, Clonmore, Killyman, Moy, Charlemont, Blackwatertown and Benburb, this wide area along the riverbanks will be opened up for everyone. 

Sharon Crooks, the Housing Executive’s Mid Ulster Area Manager, who visited the project at Bonds Bridge, Moy said she was delighted the funding could help to make a difference. 

She added; “It was a great experience to visit Blackwater Community Barge Project and see first-hand the excellent work that is underway.

“We were delighted to get behind an initiative that will help the environment and overall appearance of Blackwater River – while enabling local people to have a river experience. 

“My colleague, South Area Manager, Mark Ingham also got behind this project and his area part-funded works since the river falls into areas of County Armagh and will benefit rural settlements there too.”     

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