The Steering Group is made up from elected members and volunteers, whose aim is to continually grow the RCTA from its very solid foundations, and to raise the profile of Roving Traders on the waterways.
The main aims of the RCTA are:
- To improve trading conditions and opportunities for all licensed traders through negotiations with CRT.
- To raise public awareness of traders and our waterways in general.
- To help and support potential and existing licensed traders throughout the waterways.
Steering Group Profiles
Below are the profiles of the current Steering Group. Please feel free to contact any of them to request further information, and they will respond as soon as they’re able to – in-between their trading and personal commitments, of course!
Chair, RCTA Facebook, Market & Events Coordinator
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 11 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 knew 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’ve learned over the years.
I think I’m pretty approachable (as long as you approach me with a cuppa in your hand). I’m a Facebook addict, and am always popping in and out of Facebook, so it kinda made sense to me to volunteer for that.
Treasurer, CRT Liaison and Traders’ Liaison
Hi there. I’m Andrew Mills and trade from NB Little John selling wooden gifts and practical bits and pieces for boats.
I’ve had a varied career starting straight after college by being exactly what I am now, a self employed woodworker. In between I’ve worked in vocational education, starting off in a community training workshop and progressing over the years to Management NVQs at the Open University.
Seeking a change in direction, my last job was owner manager of a vegan bakery and wholefood shop staffed by a bunch of eco-warriors. How different is that!
Northern Markets Team Leader, Facebook, Twitter & Admin Support
It all started for us about 10 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’s 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’s 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’d heard about canal traders, so we came up with an idea and with help from CRT at Leeds, we secured our traders licence. We travelled to Norbury Wharf early in 2016, and met some of the traders, and everyone was really helpful with advice for our new adventure. Last May we eventually sold our Fish and Chip shop, and left Saville Wharf marina in Dewsbury to become continual cruisers and Roving Traders travelling the Leeds and Liverpool canal. That was our first season, we had no festivals or markets booked, and had no idea how to do it, but with help from RCTA and its members, we booked and traded at a number in 2017. When the RCTA reshuffle came about in October 2016, and they asked for volunteers I wanted to repay some of the help given to me, so I offered my services thinking my track record of 25 years plus in sales and customer service might be useful. I am enjoying with the rest of the new committee in taking the RCTA forward by gaining more exposure and raising the profile of the organisation.
We’re looking forward to meeting more fellow traders, 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.
Other Steering Group Members
Membership & New Trader Liaison
Hi, I’m Teresa Tunnicliffe on board NB Rainbow Chaser.
My background is originally nursing, my speciality being road traffic accidents and head injuries, then, via a pikelet and a treacle mine, I’ve done sex education in schools, counselling, care of the elderly, telephone answering both commercial and medical, running nursing homes and managing them.
I’ve represented the private nursing sector at NHS meetings both planning and policy making, been a member of The Institute of Management, and membership secretary for Women in Business, Birmingham, from its inception. I’ve also been successful in various party plan home sales ventures (when they were the thing!)
So when deciding I needed to DO something as we continually cruise, in my wisdom I thought 3D cards would be a great idea, saw some displayed and they caught my eye, never thinking about the sun, the wind, the rain! In retrospect I should’ve contacted RCTA before I contacted CRT to get my trading licence 😀
So diversification was in order … ‘Unicornucopia’ sells a variety of miscellany: books, cards, home crafted items, etc. Our lives do not make it easy to plan … Children and grandchildren living in various countries, a house in Spain (trying to get rid of), etc, etc. The other half continues to cruise, or we pay for a mooring until I get back, and we join-up again. So markets are not actually our ‘thing’ at the moment, we just wanted to be legal whilst selling on the towpath.
I think independent businesses prosper from joining together to have a ‘mouth’ to speak to those who matter, those who will ultimately affect how we live our lives. The big boys do acknowledge and communicate with RCTA, and recognise them as an association run by, and for, its individual members.
The call went out for more help from the members, so I responded and hopefully, as a group, we will raise the profile even more and encourage folk to join and reap the advantages of membership.
Events PR – Radio/TV/Press
I’m Julie Tonkin, running a business decorating boats and items with painted canal ware and canalia. After trading from my gazebo for years I decided to try trading off my boat and joined the RCTA. I’m having a fabulous time.
I believe this Association is a positive way forward for traders and use of our canals and I wish to contribute to its running and I feel I can make a positive impact. I volunteered for the role as PR for radio, TV and press, as this is a committee position I have held in the past for another organisation.
Buyitoffaboat Shop & Internal Communication
I trade from our narrow boat NB Half a Shilling along with my husband Mick. We built Half a Shilling ourselves from the base plate up in our front garden in Kent all 60ft of her. It was a proud moment in 2004 when she was craned out onto a trombone lorry trailer and whisked up the M1 to the Midlands and touched water for the first time. Cruising around, I now had time for a hobby and started making jewellery. Well there’s only so much jewellery a girl can have and my stash was growing rapidly as I got the bug for making more.
A friend had told us about a Roving Trader licence and so The Jewellery Boat was formed. We started selling our hand made jewellery and also joined the newly formed RCTA in 2013, where we attended the very first RCTA market in Birmingham which was a spectacular sight and a sensational hit. The flags flew, the boats were lit up and the people came from miles around. New friends were made, volunteers were needed and gradually markets were being arranged in various areas and a new community trading began. It was exciting making our way to the next market, sometimes in convoy, and catching up with friends we may not have seen for a year since the last market in their area.
Now I look back at how far the RCTA has grown and see others enjoying what we have experienced and pleased to still be volunteering. Unfortunately, I have been unable to continue making our jewellery, so we have diversified into other products. Having found a wonderful Honey farm near our home in Wales, we decided to explore that avenue and we started carrying their Honey, and Honey & Beeswax products. After experimenting with cooking and using the honey, we discovered that we could make a wide range of our own products to sell, which includes fudge, honeycomb, jams & chutneys and quite proud now to also be offering a diverse range of Welsh Products too.
Southern Markets Team Leader
My name is Karl & I trade from my narrow boat & butty on the southern Grand Union Canal. I trade in crystals, fossils, upcycled furniture & beautiful carved wooden ware.
Karl is a man of few words, hence the above was the resume he gave the committee. I would like to add that Karl has become a valued member of the RCTA & recently the Steering Committee. He is our “man on the ground” when checking potential sites & organising market venues, measuring up, making risk assessments, obtaining access & location possibilities etc.
Karl is our Southern Markets Team Leader, working with individual market Managers, planning mooring orders, dealing with site surveys for new locations & more.
Jan Pickles Price
Having lived aboard narrowboat Drifter, with husband Haydn and our two cats, we have been puddling around our beautiful waterways for just over 5 years. I am a keen photographer, enjoy crochet and it seemed a natural progression to make my wares to sell.
I’ve had a variety of jobs from working in a bakery, a busy Solicitors and years lost to the coupon sorting industry 😏 – We decided working for ourselves was the way to go and we got into graphics, printing large scale prints for events at the NEC etc. We’ve run a video production company making marketing and training videos to the corporate market and we’ve even run a company selling shoes to theatre companies and stage events 👠😁 … A real mixed bag and now enjoy a more sedate pace of life.
My role with the Steering Committee is Admin and generally try to ease pressure on other members of the team when things get busy.
I live aboard nb Sola Gratia with my wife, Tracey (aka “The Blind Boater”). Sadly, her Guide Dog (Oakley) had to retire in early 2019, but she is now partnered with Loki, a yellow labrador. We moved on board in March 2014 and are really enjoying life in the slow lane. We still haven’t cruised half what we’d hoped to by now!
When I first started work, it was in a discount electrical showroom in Bournemouth. From there, I moved to their head office in Shoreham-by-Sea (Sussex) into the accounts department, where Tracey & I met. After many years in accounts, I got more involved in computer work, eventually setting up my own computer business. This eventually led me into a full-time job with one of my customers – a bus company – where I achieved another ambition in passing my PSV test!
Life afloat was a long-term dream that came about somewhat miraculously. Circumstances changed and we were able to sell the house and buy a boat. In late 2019, having held a Traders’ Licence for almost year and not done anything about it, we were suddenly presented with the opportunity to take over the business of “The Doggie Boat”. We got to know some of the RCTA Steering Group at Floating Markets which resulted in me being “invited” to take on the website!
I am Judith Matthews on NB MJOR. I live aboard with my partner, 2 autistic teen children and 2 cats. We have a linear mooring on the South Oxford Canal.
I have always lived in the country, originally in Dorset, but moving to Warwickshire nearly 4 years ago when we bought our boat. I have loved the canals, nature and history since a child.
Trading from my boat as Judith Matthews Photography, I joined the RCTA to help me learn about trading, to take part in Floating Markets and because they had a great community of members.
I joined the Steering Group after a plea for someone to take over the Instagram page. I hope to start posting there more regularly and am here if anyone needs any help with Instagram. It is a fabulous opportunity to get your business know internationally and a huge clientele just waiting to see your wares!
My name is Kay Andrews, and I hand-paint and sell a wide range of lovely things from my narrow boat Pea Green and online. My artwork is based on traditional canal roses and castles. However, I specialise in painting upcycled pieces, giving pre-loved bits and bobs a new lease of life. These sit alongside the more traditional Buckby style cans and narrow boat door panels, that I also paint.
In some ways this seems a long way from my previous professional life as a university lecturer and project manager in both London and LA. My former work led me around the world advocating, sharing knowledge and supporting others. I was privileged to work with everyone from young children to chairing and presenting at inter-governmental meetings.
Common threads, linking my current work world to my previous one, are a strong sense of advocacy and an engrained love of history. In my eyes Roving Canal Traders, working and trading on the waterways, reflect a link with the working canals of the past. Today, we roving traders ensure the waterways continue to be a place of work as well as leisure. I hope my contribution, along with John’s, to the RCTA will raise the profile of Roving Canal Traders, and gain recognition for the unique contribution we make to the waterways.
I went straight from school into Rolls-Royce, London. After completing my apprenticeship, I carried on working there for a while till I moved to the Chequered Flag, a sports car company in Chiswick.
From there I moved to Renault, then BMW, and on to the RAC. It was while working there I took an interest in effective vehicle opening: people who had locked their keys inside vehicles. This took me into Domestic & Commercial Locksmithing.
My motor trade career now behind me, I started a small company which soon escalated into all areas of physical and electronic security. Prior to selling the business, my wife Helen and I had both loved boating on the canals from at least 40 years ago.
When we eventually sold the business, we bought our first boat, Miss Ellie No1, in 2007. I took up a job with Transport for London for 5 years, then we had boat built in 2014 by Steve Hudson. As everyone may know, that was the year he unfortunately died.
So here I am, running the Beer Boat with Helen my lovely wife since January 2016 and I love it! The story of the boat build is in our Website blog.
So that’s me. 2 grown up children, 4 grandchildren, and our 15 year old Jack Russell Molly. Along with Kay, I hope that representing the RCTA in the All Party Parliamentary Group will help raise our profile and gain the recognition this way of life brings.