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Teen volunteer from North Walsham urges others to get involved

Ed Cubitt at Ebridge Mill pond. Pictures: Alex Hurrell

Ed Cubitt at Ebridge Mill pond. Pictures: Alex Hurrell

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When teenager Ed Cubitt looks out over the North Walsham and Dilham Canal at Ebridge, it’s in the knowledge that he has helped open it up for thousands to enjoy.

The 17-year-old spent more than a year taking part in regular volunteer work parties on the waterway, Norfolk’s only sailing canal with locks.

His efforts helped him gain his silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and counted towards the platinum and diamond Chief Scout Awards he has also achieved, all as a Victory Explorer with First North Walsham Scouts.

Thanks to him and other work party members, a two-and-a-half mile choked stretch of the canal is now in daily use by walkers, bird watchers, canoeists, sailors and fishermen.

The teenager, son of North Walsham vicar the Revd Paul Cubitt, became involved after dropping in with his family at a canal open day about three years ago.

He needed to commit to a volunteering project over a period of 12 months as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award requirements and, as a keen sailor and canoeist, the canal restoration project fitted the bill.

He said: “I was doing things like clearing undergrowth off the spillway, helping cut down trees and turning them into wood chippings.

“I was also working on pontoons, trimming overgrowth from the banks and adding stuff to the fires at the end of the sessions. It was hard work, but I enjoyed it.”

He also gained new skills as a volunteer, including the use of manual saws and other tools, and learned more about the birds and other wildlife regularly seen along the canal.

He would recommend it to all ages, including other young people.

“It was very satisfying,” he said. “Where there was overgrowth, there’s now a path and the canal is clear. It’s nice to see people enjoying it - it makes it all worthwhile.”

The teenager, who hopes to study transport management and planning at university, is on course to achieve his gold Duke of Edinburgh Award this summer.

The North Walsham and Dilham Canal was originally nearly nine miles long.

It stretches from Antingham ponds, north-west of North Walsham, to Wayford Bridge, north-west of Stalham.

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