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As the Official Overlay Supporter of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Queen’s Baton Relay, GL events UK is partnered with Canal & River Trust and has nominated another inspiring individual from the charity to carry the Baton this summer.

Born in Birmingham, Ian Lane is the Head of Operational Projects of the West Midlands based charity, Canal & River Trust. He first joined nearly 20 years ago as a Civil Engineer when Canal & River Trust was formerly British Waterways. Since the charity’s inception in 2012, Ian has provided leadership and direction for strategic projects and, for the past decade, has contributed to making it a leading national charity in the West Midlands. Ian is passionate about the benefits of our waterways and encourages more people to use and protect them.

Raising the Charity’s Profile

Driven by a passion to raise the profile of the charity, Ian continues to set a positive example in educating others about Canal & River Trust. Acknowledging that people often have traditional connotations of the industrial heritage of canal and river systems, Ian realises that perspectives still need to change.

Greater recognition, according to Ian, lies in understanding how nature and eco-systems along the waterways contribute to the wellbeing of the population. “In the West Midlands alone, there are about 6 million residents and 2 million of those individuals live within a kilometer of a canal, but many people don’t even realise their proximity to a waterway. Over the last four to five years, we have tried to make our canals and rivers more inviting spaces, whilst highlighting the various health benefits, so that people have a reason to visit.”

“We have got a massive job in raising our profile, and Covid has played a huge part in that. During the pandemic, some of our canals have seen a 400% increase in usage, so people have found them and experienced their many benefits. We hope to continue changing some of the perceptional barriers about the canals, as being dark and dangerous places. If we can achieve that, hopefully people will start to use these waterways in their daily lives and see an improvement in their mental and physical wellbeing.”

Future impact

Ian is hopeful that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will have a positive impact, nationally, in sustaining and protecting waterways. “We hope that the 1.5 million people who visit Birmingham from across the country will see how welcoming our canals are. In realising this, not only will the entire region benefit from the Games, but it is hoped that when our visitors return home, they will visit their own local canal, river or green space.” 

“If people don’t use canals or support our cause, we may risk eventually losing the canal network in the future. That’s not what we want, because it’s a place that everyone can benefit from and enjoy.”

It is a tremendous honour to be part of the Queen’s Baton Relay and a privilege to carry the Baton on behalf of the Canal & River Trust.

Ian LaneHead of Operational Projects - West Midlands - Canal & River Trust

Connection with sport

Ian is passionate about football, running and martial arts, and enjoys trying new sports. He reveals how the Games can make a positive impact in the region and perpetuate a legacy with help from other local organisations. “Sport has always been an important part of my life, and it contributes to my wellbeing. For me, the opportunity for Birmingham and the entire region to enjoy the Games is thrilling. These opportunities do not arise very often, and this is something that can make a big difference in an area. It is such an exciting event, and we might not see again for a very long time, so it is important for the region to make the most of it.”

Queen’s Baton Relay honour

Ian is thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in the Queen’s Baton Relay. He reveals how important it would be for him to carry the Baton, and to make it even more special he received the news on his 50th birthday. “It is a tremendous honour to be part of the Queen’s Baton Relay and a privilege to carry the Baton in recognition of my work with the Canal & River Trust. For me, it will be a brilliant personal achievement and if I can use the Queen’s Baton Relay as a platform to highlight what we are doing as a charity, it would be marvelous.”

“We have a great relationship with the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee, and I think they can see the benefits of our charity on society and that has been our stance since day one. Birmingham 2022 have been fantastic with us and we want to help them deliver a great Games.”