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West Leeds is getting on board for community news

Volunteers Fran and Reg Smith

Volunteers Fran and Reg Smith

by Caroline Grandjean
Life on the canal will be explored during a series of boat trips in West Leeds.

‘All hands on Deck’ will run from today until April 1 for the fourth year running, and the free boats rides will be opened to the public over the weekend

Local residents Fran Graham and Marie Millward are leading the project with Safe Anchor Trust to bring a week of culture and barge based entertainment to Leeds.

The community project aims at celebrating the area and re engaging people with the canal.

Two narrow boats will sail their way round around the canals of Kirkstall, Bramley and Rodley, involving educational, social and creative activities.

Performances on board will even include skipping lessons.

Fran, aged 40, environment project manager said: “Last year old residents who have never driven learnt how to drive the boat, which is really fun.”

Past events involved artists turning the barges into floating art gallery. But this year, the emphasis is on news.

A locally made special edition newspaper is part of the project – it will be produced on board and distributed to homes in West Leeds.

Fran added: “We wanted to provide an unusual cultural venue. This year people can document what they see, draw and take pictures. The idea is to use the environment as a stimulus.”

She outlined the need to show people that the canal is a nice area to walk or cycle along, the goal being to get people down.

She added: “It’s not a passive trip, everybody contributes to something. It’s for everyone, a lot of families are coming.”

Volunteers are needed for towpath duties.

For more information, go on twitter: @_allhandsondeck

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