ANT SQUAD – Avon Navigation Trust Youth Squad

Avon Navigation Trust Youth Squad (ANT Squad) is a initiative for Young Adults, with youth volunteering at its core, giving young people opportunities to have fun on the river whilst at the same time learning and gaining life enhancing experiences. 

This is all being made possible by NEPTUNE and our partnership work with other organisations.

ANT Squad will run along the lines of a club. The core membership is aimed at 18+ year olds. Activities will vary, for example, one session there may be an activity like paddleboarding from Neptune, and the following session it might be litter picking from kayaks or learning how to operate the locks or learning powerboat skills and working towards certificates. There will be a strong environmental element to ANT Squad activities, as well as paddle sport activities, water safety, helming craft, river trips, boat maintenance sessions, nature and outdoor education work on the lock islands and so much more.

ANT squad officially launched post covid and has already been a great success with favourite activities being litter picks, paddleboarding and powerboat training. Three of the core members have carried on their training over the winter and gained British Canoe qualifications including Foundation Rescue Training and qualified as paddle sport instructors, one has now gained a RYA Helms certificate, one is a level 3 paddleboard coach and one has gone onto training to become a commercial diver. These young people will now form a vital part of the ANT SQUAD coaching team in the future, and integrate into the main ANT Volunteering team. A great example of a youth project being designed and run for and by the young people themselves.

3 of the ANT squad team have also now gone onto seasonal work for ANT, on lock duties and on pilot boat works support roles. 1 is a regular volunteer driver for the ANT trip boat. 

As well as the core group, ANT squad also run sessions for the wider community, as well as younger age brackets. ANT have helped run some great sessions to get young people onto the water. River trips have been run for local schools, multi activity sessions for groups of young people to enjoy the benefits of the river.

Project Neptune

Neptune started life as a 1960’s British Waterways work barge and is now ANT’S mobile activity centre and Flagship to the ANT fleet.

The plan was developed in 2018 to raise grant funding to purchase and re-purpose Neptune to deliver a whole new range of recreational opportunities, focusing especially on Ant Squad.

In 2019 Neptune was refitted in partnership with Evesham Marina with new engine, re-plated and painted. In 2021/2 the internal fit out was also completed by volunteers. The whole project was funded 100% by grant applications, and ANT are proud to work in partnership with these external funders.

Activities Neptune enables:

  • Base and home for all the ANT SQUAD activities 
  • A mobile activity centre – able to visit events and travel along the river. Being mobile, Neptune can moor close by any activity, providing the vital support facilities.
  • Full facilities including classroom, kitchen, toilet, shower, changing area. This is so important when delivering activities like paddleboarding where participants need to wash their hands, get changed, may need a shower, and any recreational experience should always include a cup of tea and access to a toilet.

The facilities make it the perfect base for the new delivery of Inland Waterways helm certificates and powerboating courses on the River

  • Avon dovetailing with the Evesham Lock House project. ANT can now also offer tuition navigating a wide beam. 
  • Neptune has already visited several of the River Festivals where it can operate ‘have a go’ sessions in kayaks and paddleboard.
  • The Evesham Lock House project is a plan is to ‘bring boating back to Evesham’. Neptune will play a vital role in this and acting as a base to bring boating back to the park in Evesham.
  • Neptune could be the perfect place to use for a unique meeting venue, and so much more…

Evesham Lock House 

With the Evesham Lock program developing, this will soon offer a base for more youth visits,  and more activities for young people, as well as a base for the regular meetings of the 18yrs+ Young Adults of ANT SQUAD.