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!
Sue Meades, Teresa Tunnicliffe and Ronni Payne are also Trustees.
Sue Meades *
Chair & CRT Liaison
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. One day we decided there’s more to life…
The thing that had always stuck with me from holidaying on the Norfolk Broads was that feeling when you wake up in the morning on the water to the sound of ducks & herons, it is something very special.
Fourteen years ago 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 our journey of scaling down, planning, and waiting for the right time. We purchased our current boat at Northwich just over 10yrs ago, we travelled quite a lot on the Trent and Mersey, the Black Country, the Shroppie, and the Staffs and Worcs & the Leeds & Liverpool canals since then.
A lot had changed since we initially embarked on this dream, and that meant after owning the boat for a few years 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 a crafting 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. We sold our Fish & Chip shop, left Saville Wharf Marina in Dewsbury to become continual cruisers and Roving Traders, travelling the Leeds and Liverpool canal first.
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 of events. 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.
The Steering Committee has had quite a few changes since then, but has stayed constant the past few years & I am enjoying, with the rest of the present committee, taking the RCTA forward by gaining more members, working with other organisations and raising the profile of the organisation. I have volunteered as PR Liaison, Markets Admin, Market Coordinator & currently Chair, so I have gained a good insight into the working of RCTA which I hope to pass on to others soon as fresh minds & ideas are always advantageous to any organisation.
Our own trading has developed & changed over the past 6yrs as opportunities have arisen & we now are the only official floating representative of a niche Cheese producer. We love meeting fellow traders, attending some bigger markets and festivals, selling our Cheese Truckles as the only official floating outlet for the Great British Cheese Company, along with wooden cheese boards decorated by Colin with Celtic style Pyrography, whilst I’m continuing to work with the committee & hopefully put RCTA in a good place for others to carry on from.
Get in touch with Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary, Website & Technology
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!
Contact Tim at email@example.com
Teresa Tunnicliffe *
Vice Chair, 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.
Contact Teresa at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Jennie Howland. I am 69 years old, a double graduate and RGN (retired). I have lived on my boat for many years.
My late husband was a long standing member of the RCTA and I have also been a member for many years.
I live on my boat with my cat, Mr Bear, at Urban Moorings on the Wyrley and Essington canal in Wolverhampton.
Before coming to Urban Moorings my late husband Paul and I were traders and continuous cruisers, attending many events/markets organised by the RCTA.
I continue to make and sell fenders and craft goods, mostly to raise funds for Urban Moorings. I enjoy gardening, reading, cooking and craft work.
Contact Jennie at: email@example.com
Markets Admin Assistant
I’m Nikki. I have lived on the canals for 2 years on Narrowboat West Riding. I have been trading for 1 year, so still a lots to learn!
We sell needle-felt animals (we make these), eco body care (soaps, men’s grooming), hand-thrown ceramic and kids accessories. Most of our products are hand made in the UK – small batch runs from small businesses.
I have always been a creative person – I work in fashion and am always crafting! I also had a small business selling life-like needle felt dog commissions before we set up the boat shop. I like that I don’t have to walk 5 miles to a Post Office, and get to meet so many people – boaters and customers
I volunteered for the RCTA to try and give back a little. The RCTA helps my business a lot and whatever spare time I can give to support I do.
You can contact Nikki at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
You can contact Julie at email@example.com
Hi I’m Lorraine and as some of us are not acquainted, I would like to let you know a bit about my background.
After working in Retail Finance and Project Management for many years, specialising in fraud and data integrity, I took early retirement and planned to craft and do a few craft fairs. Unintentionally, I turned my sewing hobby into a business. With my husband, Phil, we traded at large land events, a small shop and a Christmas pop-up shop in a National Trust property.
After trading on land at IWA Canal Cavalcade and Crick boat show for a couple of years, we decided to have another go at semi-retirement, but this time on a boat. I had never been on a boat before. but we moved onto a Widebeam boat with 2 cats, a dog and my sewing machines. We have been trading and learning on the canals ever since.
I love the buzz of retail. One of my strengths is enthusiasm, and one of my weakness is fabric. I love Bunting! I make lots and lots.
I have volunteered as I found the RCTA members were very helpful and supportive in our early years of towpath trading and thought that now is my opportunity to try and repay the favour. Integrity is very important to me, as is laughter, and I am looking forward to helping with chapter 2024 of the RCTA story.
Markets Coordinator Admin Support
Hi my name is Chris Downs. Along with my wife, Pauline, we have lived on the canals for three years and have been traders for half that time.
My background for the last few years of my working career has been working both in Canada and the UK in various workplace safety programmes, and child protection. I have volunteered with many charities and associations trying simply to give back, which is why I have joined the volunteers at RCTA. Hopefully my experiences will aid me to pay back some of the invaluable advice and assistance given to us on our trading journey.
Southern Markets Venue Advisor
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.
Ronni Payne *
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.
Tracey is a co-opted Boaters’ Rep on the CRT Council.
Contact Tracey at firstname.lastname@example.org