Steering Group

In October 2016, a new group of of traders took over the responsibilities of the Steering Group, after the previous incumbents stepped down. The group are made up from elected members and volunteers, whose aim it is to grow the RCTA from its very solid foundations, and continue to raise its profile on the waterways. 

The main aims of the RCTA continue be 

1) To improve trading conditions & opportunities for all licensed traders through negotiations with CRT. 

2) To raise public awareness of traders & our waterways in general.  

3) To help & support potential & existing licensed traders throughout the waterways.

Below you'll find profiles of the Steering Group of December 2016 and beyond. Please feel encouraged to contact any of them to request further information and they will get back to you as soon as they are able - in between their trading commitments ...

Steering Group

Mark Evans - Chair and RCTA Liaison

Hi all, my name is Mark Evans and I live on narrowboat ‘Marmite’ with Justina, my wife. 

We sell haberdashery and rosettes from the boat, and it is our only form of income ... so we have to make our trading lifestyle work. I am 52 years young and been a self-employed roving trading for the past four years. In that time we have travelled the system and made a lot of friends. 

 I used to work as a site manager for a company building marinas. In that line of work I dealt with a wide variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds, and also had to attend meetings with British Waterways and work through the associated red tape! A lot of that work involved dealing with three parties all wanting something different and having to come up with workable solutions to benefit all. 

 I am a good listener, but also good at communication and processing information quickly. I am good at putting a point across and dealing with follow-up questions. I do, however, think that my biggest strength is my love of the canals and our way of life. Top of my list is preserving our way of life and making life on the water for traders a better place.

Contact Mark at crt.rcta@outlook.com

Ronni Payne - Treasurer, Market Facebook admin, RCTA Facebook Admin 

Hi, I'm Ronni and I fell into boating by accident ... It all started with visiting an old friend on his boat for coffee, and never going home. Here I still am 10 years and 7 boats later, and loving every minute of it. 

In my previous life I have been a trainee accountant, travel agent, market trader, administrator, first aider, to name but a few. But that all stopped when I moved on the boat with Yogi my beloved. I became a boater. I fell into my vocation as a knot tyer by accident too. I've always liked making things - crochet, wire work, potions and lotions. So when I didn't have the cash to buy a full set of ready made fenders for boat number 3 (I think it was number 3), I bought a coil of rope instead, looked up fenders in books, (this was before Facebook and YouTube) and worked it out myself. The rope I had left was soon used up by the other boaters in the boatyard who had stood chatting to me while I made mine, giving me sideways glances and offering me lots of tea to make some for them too!! I do love my tea :0) 

I know the founding members of the RCTA, I was about when it first started and had just started trading myself. I think, one of my first trading days was at an RCTA market. I was green, new and totally overwhelmed at the prospect of working for myself for the first time. But they were all really supportive, and helped me a great deal, giving me advice and pointers. You could see their passion for the waterways and the canal way of life. I am pretty sure, I wouldn't have done as well as I have without their input and advice. That's why I volunteered to help. I've had my benefits from the RCTA, I've had the help and advice, and I think it's about time I took hold of the baton to do my bit to help others with what I have learned over the years. I have to say that I wasn't expecting to get 3 out of 4 of the positions I volunteered for though!! 

I think I am pretty approachable (as long as you approach me with a cuppa in your hand). I am a Facebook addict, and am always popping in and out of Facebook, so it kinda made sense to me to volunteer for that.

Contact Ronni at treasurer.rcta@outlook.com OR facebook.rcta@outlook.com

Sandra Walsh - Secretary, PR Communications (Newsletter), and website manager 

Hi everyone 

Many people will know my story from our blog nbareandare.com, formerly nbnorthernpride.co.uk. 

I spent 35 years in the Health Service, as a nurse and subsequently a midwife. In my initial years of clinical practice, I saw and heard many colleagues vociferously complaining that ‘they’ did this, or that; or didn’t do this or that; and I felt there must be more to it. So I took on the local voluntary role of Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Staff Representative, and did that for many years. I was also the Chair of the Birmingham Branch of the RCM for some time (the largest branch in the country), and a Supervisor of Midwives. In the mid 1990s I was on the inaugural RCM Senior Midwives Leadership Development Program, and in 2000 I gained a BSc (Hons) in Women’s Health Studies. I’ve had local (change management) and national (recruitment and retention) project lead posts. 

In 2005 I immigrated to New Zealand where I was the Midwifery Educator and Quality Coordinator. In NZ I met Barry, who was to become my ‘3rd time lucky’ husband in 2009 – we married on the roof of our narrowboat on our first of two six-month UK narrowboating adventures. His love of the British waterways and the history of UK, led us to plan a life living as continuous cruisers, investigating options for sustaining our lifestyle as we travel. It also meant I could return to UK, to be closer to my family (especially my elderly parents and young grandchildren). 

This is all a work in progress - and we’re halfway though a five-year application for Barry’s UK spousal sponsored visa. Barry runs ‘The Home Brew Boat’, we have a Roving Trader license for this (and a fabulous online ‘shop’), and I support him with Social Media marketing. I set up a facepainting business in 2014 (Funtastic Facepainting by Sandra), and trade at canal festivals using a gazebo, not from the boat (the two businesses don’t really mix!). Our second ever festival was at Alvecote, organised by Michael Wooding, during Easter 2014, and we’ve traded at many RCTA Floating Markets since then. 

I volunteered to help with RCTA in October, when the call was made, as I felt it was time to step up and do my bit in recognition of the invaluable support we’ve had over the last two years from RCTA. Once again I felt joining ‘them’, was far more positive and productive than moaning about ‘them’ and what they did or didn’t do!

Contact Sandra at web.rcta@outlook.com - or canaltraders@outlook.com

Debbie Ward - Book-keeper, Market and event Co-ordinator 

I have lived aboard my narrow boat since April 2012 with husband James. Dudley, our Patterdale, joined us in April 2015. 

We started trading in 2014 as The Pen Maker's Boat, and have attended many festivals and floating markets selling our wares, we also sell online. 

Our boat is our mobile workshop as well as home, everything we sell is made onboard.

My background is in Admin, and I spent many years as a PA supporting the CEO and Finance Director of a large company. 

I have volunteered for the the position of Book Keeper supporting the Treasurer with the accounts, raising invoices, and liaising with membership and market bookings when payments are received.

Contact Debbie on markets.rcta@outlook.com, OR via Ronni at treasurer.rcta@outlook.com

Justina Evans - Traders and New Traders Liaison

"Hi, I'm Justina the New Traders Liaison volunteer. I live with Mark on nb Marmite with our 2 dogs Tonka and Reiko. I've lived aboard for almost 14 years now and been a roving trader for 4 of those. Our main business is mostly internet based as Grand Rosettes, but we also sell haberdashery items and rosettes from the side of the boat. 

Previously I was a self employed motorcycle instructor for 16 years teaching all levels of students from the basic learner right up to advanced level. I am also a qualifed mechanic so quite happy to get down and dirty in the engine 'ole! 

I volunteered for this role as I felt it was something positive I could do for the RCTA using some of the skills I have learnt from my years of teaching. When I started my application for a trade licence it was a bit of a random trawl through internet followed by numerous phone calls to C&RT and the insurance company (luckily my insurance company were extremely helpful) and also the RCTA, who were a much smaller organisation than they are now. 

I would like to carry on the enthusiasm shown to new traders which was offered to me."

Contact Justina on: traders.rcta@outlook.com, OR newtraders.rcta@outlook.com

Sandra Willis -  Market Bookings

Sandra Willis trades as 'The Doggie Boat'. She has owned her boat for nine years, and has been continuous cruising for the last four years covering a fair portion of the network from London to Lancaster and many points inbetween. 

Sandra has been trading as 'The Doggie Boat' now for three years with her two assistants - two golden retrievers Cosmo & Daquiri, aboard narrowboat Golden Boyz. Sandra does both Floating Markets and events, with towpath trading in between and out of season.

Sandra heard about the RCTA after continuously cruising for a year when she was looking at avenues for income so she could remain on the cut. 

She attended her first Floating Market at Birmingham in the early days of the RCTA markets. Having met some of the other traders and finding the support and particularly the camaraderie invaluable (as Sandra single hands her boat), she started helping with RCTA PR. Initially it started with entering RCTA Floating Markets in the 'Living Waters awards' in 2014, for which we won a commendation in the tourism category. 

As Sandra continued trading, she also took on the role of doing the RCTA newsletter. Sandra ran an events franchise for 20 years prior to moving full time on the boat, which involved both PR and a monthly newsletter.

With the recent reshuffle within RCTA, and a new host of volunteers, Sandra has stepped down from those positions and taken on the role of market bookings instead. She is really looking forward to a new era of the RCTA, with more involvement and help from amongst the members.

Contact Sandra on markets.rcta@outlook.com

Sue Meades - PR Communications (external), and Market posters

It all started for us about 9 years ago, myself and my partner Colin had a lovely house in a beautiful part of Scotland but stressful jobs in sales and timber frame design. One day we decided there is more to life ... 

I had spent holidays on The Norfolk Broads with my parents as a youngster then in my twenties lived on a wooden Broads boat in Oulton Broad for a while, the thing that had always stuck with me was that feeling when you wake up in the morning on the water, it is something very special. We travelled the country until we found Tin Lizzie a 35-year-old 42ft Minden boat full of character, we bought her, we were hooked. This was the start of a 9-year journey of scaling down, planning and waiting. We came across our current boat at Northwich. We travelled quite a lot on the Trent  and Mersey, The Shroppie, and the Staffs and Worcs canals during holidays and long weekends. Almost every other weekend we drove down from Scotland to be on board. 

A lot had changed since we embarked on this dream, and that meant we now had to find a way to sustain a life on the cut. We had heard about canal traders, so we came up with an idea and with help from C&RT at Leeds we secured our traders licence. We travelled to Norbury Wharf earlier this year, and met some of the traders, Sandra Willis and James Ward amongst others, and everyone was really helpful with advice for our new adventure. Last May we eventually sold our Fish & Chip shop, and left Saville Wharf marina in Dewsbury to become continual cruisers and Roving Traders travelling the Leeds and Liverpool canal. This was our first season, we had no festivals or markets booked, and had no idea how to do this, but with help from RCTA and its members we are now booking for next year and have two small festivals under our belt which we traded at whilst travelling up north. When the RCTA reshuffle came about and they asked for volunteers I wanted to repay some of the help that had been offered to me so I offered my services thinking that my track record of 25 years plus in sales and customer service might be useful. I am looking forward to working with the rest of the new committee in taking the RCTA forward by gaining more exposure and raising the profile of the organisation. 

We are looking forward to next year and meeting more of my fellow traders and attending some bigger markets and festivals selling our bespoke design and printed to order ceramic mugs along with wooden gifts personalised by Pyography whilst continuing to work with the committee.

Get in touch with Sue at pubrel.rcta@outlook.com