Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk

Lawrence Newman, the Waterways Trust

I became a trustee of the Waterways Trust in 2004. The trust emerged six years ago from British Waterways, the company responsible for maintaining the country's inland waterways.

The company felt that some of the activities it was involved with - restoration projects and working with canal enthusiasts, for example - would be better suited to a trust.

As part of that change, British Waterways reserved the right to nominate a number of members. It proposed me as a trustee because I have done quite a bit of work for British Waterways over the years.

What I like about the trust is that it is both enthusiastic and competent, and its members are drawn from every relevant area. So many trusts have a lawyer, an accountant and so on on their boards, but the Waterways Trust includes lots of people who know about the technical side of canals, boats and the like. This is important for the kind of work we do.

We also have people who understand government. It's important that we have a very good relationship with government because it supports a lot of the activities we do.

The other thing I like about the organisation is that it is a genuinely national trust, unlike some others I work with. Our trustees are drawn from all over the country, so it's not London-centric at all. In fact, its headquarters are in Gloucester.

Because of the nature of our membership and the fact that we have museums and projects around the country, we vary the location of our meetings. There are some meetings in London, of course, but we also have meetings at the National Waterways Museum in Gloucester, for example, and at the National Boat Museum in Cheshire. I don't think this makes trustee meetings too difficult to organise. What it does mean is that we get to see for ourselves what the trust is funding.

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