The birth of CanalAbility hinged on a forlorn character (Derek) standing on the bank of the River Stort, in the late 1970s, wondering what exciting schemes he could create to capture the imagination of unemployed young people. This forlornness disappeared when a narrowboat came round the corner and the idea of building one was created.
YOP Rose came into existence and helped many young people to learn practical skills. Subsequently it transferred to CanalAbility until its sale a few years ago. The next and most important stage was the realisation that the boat was totally unsuitable for anyone with a physical disability. So an unofficial group decided to form a charity to raise monies… And thus CanalAbility (formerly the Canal Boat Project) was formed and registered in 1991. Read more about the history of CanalAbility…
Derek has lived in Harlow for 38 years and has served as a Councillor since 1995. Previous to that he was a maths & science teacher for five years. He has also been a Youth Worker and Youth Officer, and has also been a Community Education Officer for West Essex.
He was with Essex County Council for twenty nine years until his retirement in 1993. Derek is an active sports-person, and has served as Chairman for the Young Peoples Advice Centre, CanalAbility, Youth Bus Association and was the Chair of the Association of Essex Authorities until July 2001.