31st March 2010
Keith Ayling died on the morning of Tuesday 30th March. This was a year to the day since he stepped down from being the Chairman of the Chesterfield Canal Trust. He became a Vice-President and remained very active.
Keith had been the Chairman for eighteen years. He was one of the leaders in the formation of the Chesterfield Canal Partnership which has representatives of all the councils on the canal plus waterways bodies and conservation concerns. During his tenure, eleven miles of canal were restored including thirty five locks. Much of the work has been done to enable the remaining nine miles between Staveley and Kiveton Park to be restored.
His period of office saw a small organisation with an apparently impossible dream become a major player in canal restoration. He oversaw the transition from Canal Society to Canal Trust Ltd. with its extra responsibilities. The Trust is entirely run by volunteers, but Keith always insisted that it should produce work of a professional standard. One example of this was its magazine, Cuckoo, being canal society magazine of the year twice running and another was its Work Party being instrumental in the restoration of four locks and the building of a fifth from scratch on the Chesterfield length.
David Trickett, Trust Vice-Chair, and Geraint Coles, Partnership Development Manager, both paid warm tributes to Keith. Both were unequivocal in their belief that his drive and enthusiasm were key factors in the Trust’s success. Both doubted that as much progress would have been made without his leadership.
There is no doubt that Keith will be missed both by the Chesterfield Canal Trust and the wider canal community. However the current Chair of the Trust, Robin Stonebridge, probably summed things up best when he said “Keith would not want us sitting about with long faces. He would have said ‘We have a job to do, let’s get on with it and get this canal restored!’ ”.