Posted 8th Jun 2016
In the latest of the Canal & River Trust's Humans of the Waterway series we hear from David, of Hanbury Lochs, Droitwich Canal
"People call me the Pied Piper of Hanbury! Rumour has it that if I play tunes on my flute a boat will suddenly come along any empty canal. Looks like it's just the swans who want to come into my lock today! I always keep some swan food in the little shed next to this lock so that I can steer them away from the danger of getting trapped in the lock. When the swans have their cygnets it can be a full-time job keeping them all safe. As soon as you’ve steered them away, they come back again!
I've lived here for 35 years and it's wonderful to see so much water life in the Droitwich Canal now - especially when you think that it was dry and derelict here until it reopened in 2011. All this stretch along here was once overgrown with weeds.
I think some of the beauty of this canal comes from the fact that volunteers helped restore it. With all the work that had to be done to reopen the canal, it couldn't have happened without the support of its volunteers. I do talks about the restoration and I have a big collection of photographs I've taken over the years. There’s so much history on this canal.
When I first came to this area I was working full-time for the Police Force so I didn't have much free time, but I joined the canal society and used to read the magazine. When I retired from the police, I still did part-time driver training for ten years. But when the novelty of getting up early in the mornings wore off, I decided to become a volunteer ranger for Canal & River Trust. When I joined I said there was no way I would start any earlier than ten in the morning! So that's what I do, and that suits me.
Now I'm retired I can spend my time serenading boats through the locks. I've been known to play Land of Our Fathers which is a big favourite with people! I've got lots of instruments, including two Alpine Horns. One of them is wooden and comes in two lengths of six-foot. The other one is carbon fibre and it folds up so that I can carry it on my bike. My plan is to play it in every tunnel I can find in the area. A friend said “Could it be that you’re becoming a little eccentric?” I replied, No, I've been eccentric for quite a while!”
David, Hanbury Locks, Droitwich Canal
Text and image courtesy of Canal & River Trust