Canal & River Trust, the waterways and wellbeing charity that cares for 316 miles of waterways in Yorkshire and the North East, has appointed Helen Grantham as the new chair of its Regional Advisory Board.

The voluntary role, for an initial three-year term, will help the Trust connect people and communities with the region’s waterways – covering North, South and West Yorkshire, East Riding, and parts of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Helen, from Harrogate, will lead the Advisory Board to give people a voice in developing and improving their local waterways and an opportunity to help guide the Trust’s decisions and strategies.

Aside from leading the Trust’s Regional Advisory Board, Helen is the Group Secretary and General Counsel at Co-op Group, and Council Member at the University of Leeds. She has extensive Board, executive and non-executive experience of organisations with wide stakeholder engagement. Most recently, this has included a key focus on communities, strong commitments on climate change, and championing inclusivity and diversity.

Sean McGinley, regional director Yorkshire & North East at Canal & River Trust, said: “I am delighted to welcome Helen to the Canal & River Trust. Her passion for making a difference and experience of working at a strategic level will be a great asset to the region as we encourage more use and sharing of the spaces on and beside the water.

“Our diverse canals and rivers link historic industrial towns and great cities like Leeds, Sheffield and York with rural tranquillity, and are uniquely placed to help improve people’s lives; whether it is encouraging people to go for a walk or a leisurely cycle, picking up a fishing rod for the afternoon, getting out onto the water on a boat, or volunteering with the Trust out on the canal bank. We are committed to protecting and preserving the waterways for the benefit of all.”

Helen said: “The canals and rivers tell the story of Yorkshire and the North East, past and present. Today they offer an exciting range of opportunities for the communities they run through, for health, leisure and trade. I look forward to working with the team and making a positive difference for the Trust and local people.”

The Yorkshire & North East Region’s waterways stretch over 300 miles and include all or part of: Aire & Calder Navigation Main Line and Wakefield Branch; Calder & Hebble Navigation; Chesterfield Canal; Huddersfield Broad Canal; Huddersfield Narrow Canal; Leeds & Liverpool Canal; New Junction Canal; Pocklington Canal; Ripon Canal; River Aire; River Ouse; River Tees; Rochdale Canal; Selby Canal; Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigations; Sheffield & Tinsley Canal; Stainforth & Keadby Canal; Ure Navigation.

Some of the greatest wonders of the waterway network are located within the region: Bingley Five Rise Lock (a feat of 18th century engineering), Standedge Tunnel (the longest, deepest, and highest canal tunnel in the country), and Tuel Lane Lock (the deepest canal lock in the country).