A FIRE-BATTERED and rundown Runcorn canal boat has been given a new lease of life thanks to a helpful group of young people.
The New Horizons canal boat on the Bridgewater Canal is owned by the Canal Boat Adventure Project, which gives disadvantaged young people the chance to make a success of their lives.
It was severely damaged by fire when vandals torched another of the charity's canal boats the first incident of its kind in 28 years.
New Horizons was also rundown and in need of a complete overhaul when The Prince's Trust team from Birkenhead, led by team leader Paul Martin and assistant team leader Tom Wilkinson, repainted and refurbished the vessel over two weeks.
The team worked through horrendous weather conditions including snow, hail and rain to complete the project in time. This challenge was part of the 12-week Prince's Trust programme the team is undertaking.
The programme, run by ScottishPower Learning, part of the ScottishPower group, is an initiative developed by the Prince of Wales to help young people aged from 16 to 25 develop skills vital to their development as employees and members of society.
Skills such as teamwork, communication, confidence and decision making are developed through community projects and personal mentoring from their team leaders.
Paul Martin said: 'The team has worked extremely hard over the last two weeks and they should be proud of what it has achieved.'
The boats are an after-school haven for young people, aged 10 and up, where they can get their resources to do their homework, be mentored by older children and gives them a peaceful place to study.
At weekends they cruise the canals and learn boat-handling, cooking and other skills or take part in fun activities.
Norma Hornby, chairperson of the Canal Boat Adventure Project, said: 'This project has made a significant impact on the morale of our volunteers and staff. The fact that ScottishPower and The Prince's Trust has made such a major investment in the future of so many young people is wonderful.'
Paul, who is on secondment from the Army, also drafted in the help of two Army shipwright officers - a marine engineer and an officer from 17 Port and Maritime Regt RLC (Army), based in Southampton - to help out with technical advice.
ScottishPower Learning runs nine PTT courses over the course of a year; the first scheme was extremely successful with 10 out of the team of 12 gaining employment or returning to education.
For more information on taking part in the next courses starting early next year, call Steve Gauller on 0151 633 2947.