Canal Charity makes Key Appointments to realise full potential of West Midlands Waterways



The charity that cares for the West Midlands’ famous network of canals has made two senior appointments as part of plans to boost the number of people using the region’s waterways as a place to keep fit, volunteer or just get away from the pressures of modern life.

The Canal & River Trust, which cares for 2,000 miles of the nation’s waterways, has appointed Adnan Saif as Regional Director for the West Midlands. Adnan will oversee the Trust’s waterways spanning Birmingham, the Black Country, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

With up to 80% of people in some parts of the West Midlands living within a kilometre of one of the Trust’s canals, a key aspect of the role will be maximising the potential of the waterways to make a real difference to the lives of people living and working alongside.

Adnan has worked in local government, regeneration and economic development for over 20 years. Until March 2012, Adnan was Chief Executive of Urban Living – which was one of ten national Housing Market Pathfinders. Adnan has also founded and led many non-governmental and voluntary organisations at local, European and international levels. In April 2012, he started a social enterprise initiative that seeks to improve leadership and service delivery in local government and civil society. In addition to this he was Chief Executive of the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester, a national cultural initiative that was recently awarded the 2018 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.

Adnan’s appointment comes at a time when research shows that people are happier and healthier by being next to water yet only 30% of people who live near a waterway actually visit.

With ever increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and other debilitating conditions the Midlands’ waterways can make a significant contribution to improving the wellbeing of the region, with millions of people living within easy reach of a towpath, canal or river.

Adnan commented; “This is such an exciting role. The West Midlands is Britain’s canal capital and, here more than anywhere, waterways have a really important role to play in enriching people’s daily lives.

“With waterways on the doorsteps of so many here in the West Midlands we are uniquely placed to make a really positive difference to people’s lives.”

In order to get more people engaged with their local waterways and feeling the benefits of spending time by water the Trust has made a second appointment by bringing in John Hudson OBE DL to chair its Regional Advisory Board in the West Midlands. The main purpose of the voluntary role, which has an initial term of three years, will be to connect people and communities with the local canals and rivers in the West Midlands. It will give local people a voice in developing and improving their waterways and enable them to help guide local decisions and strategies.

John has over 45 years’ experience in business in the West Midlands and was chair of Birmingham Airport for 20 years until 2017. He served as High Sheriff for the West Midlands between 2017 and 2018. He has also enjoyed a daily walk on his local towpath for the last 20 years.

John said; “It is a great honour to be appointed chair of the West Midlands regional advisory board for the Canal & River Trust, an organisation very dear to my heart, being both tremendously historic but also so useful and relevant today. I very much look forward to working with Adnan for the benefit of the Trust and local communities.”

For more information on the Canal & River Trust including how you can volunteer or donate money to support the work we do please visit