The Crew

Gwendoline May

The NBSC Crew

We may be a “Motley Crew” but we are all passionate about the waterways, boating and sharing the knowledge that we have accrued over an awful lot of years. We are constantly trying to improve our courses and facilities and like to think that we can offer you one of the best training experiences that you will get.

Come and join us for a course and see what we mean.

David Orme

David is our Centre Principal and has been messing around with boats since the age of 7 when he helped his dad build their first sailing dinghy. Holding both RYA Powerboat and Coastal Skipper qualifications, he’s boated extensively around the British Isles and Eastern Mediterranean. Owning his own traditional narrowboat, he is now happiest navigating the quieter waters of our wonderful canal network.

As well as handling the Centre’s admin, David occasionally gets the chance to take the odd Helmsman or Experience Day course – assuming the other instructors allow him the chance!

David can be contacted directly at

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Steve Goddard

Steve is our Chief Instructor and has been floating around on (and on occasionally falling into) the canals since the mid 60s on everything from canvas kayaks to working boats and claims to have once been sunk by an iceberg outside the Rose and Castle in Braunston. We’re not certain if this was before or after he went to the pub.

Our boat building courses are based on Steve’s experience of building his own boat (Siskin) which he considers a success as he can still count to 10 on his fingers.

Steve teaches all our boat and classroom courses with the exception of First Aid. He loves the challenge of “Own Boat Courses” on interesting boats and waterways.

You can contact Steve direct on

Nick Hughes

Nick’s boating experience started at the age of 9 with a holiday on the Broads with his parents in the days when all the hire boats were timber. His passion for the water and all things boaty continues to this day.

He has had everything from a Canadian Canoe, small weekenders, big cruisers, sailing dinghy, 55ft cruiser stern narrowboat, 70ft traditional narrowboat and currently lives on a 62ft Narrow Dutch Barge.

Most of his experience was gained on rivers on the Broads, the Ouse and The Nene. He then convinced himself and his wife that even though you could touch both sides of the boat at the same time, a narrowboat may be a good experience and has been enjoying the canals for the past 15 years, but has still been known to hire a cruiser on the broads for a holiday.

Nick had his own training company in Peterborough and has teaching qualifications, is an RYA qualified instructor for Helmsman and First Aid. He is also a Maritime Coastguard Agency qualified Boatmaster and trainer.

You can contact Nick direct on

Steve Dennison

Steve has been playing around on boats on and off (sometimes into the water) since the age of 12, first on the Thames and London canals.
Later trips to the Norfolk Broads and European rivers ‘broadened’ the experience level.

Career wise, he has been an engineer all his life, starting with trains, followed by automotive (up to F1, Rallying and Endurance racing), light aircraft and boats.

Steve teaches our diesel engine and systems classroom based courses.

You can contact Steve direct on

Tony Foster

Tony is a volunteer lock keeper and helmsman for the CRT, He is a mine of useful and useless information. (Don’t ask him how Watford Gap got its name). He is one of those people who enjoy driving just about anything, from lawn mowers, army tanks, lorries, rail locomotives to narrow boats. When he started moving work boats for the CRT he very quickly realised that a whole new set of skills was required as they’ve got no wheels or brakes !!!

It matters not how many mistakes you make, as long as you learn from them. He says over the years he has learned a huge amount !!!!

Tony instructs on all boat based courses.

You can contact Tony direct on

Richard Boyles

Richard has been narrow boating for over 40 years. He owned a share in a narrowboat for 22 of those years which enabled him to cruise most of the English and Welsh canals.
In 2014, Richard  became a fully qualified volunteer lock keeper at the nearby Foxton Locks which enables him to interact, assist and teach boaters how to safely traverse the largest staircase in the country.
Richard teaches our boat based courses and likes sharing his extensive experience with students.
You can contact Richard directly at

John Rush

John has spent the last 35 years in and around boats of all shapes and sizes on the inland waterway system. Starting from humble beginnings as a novice on a hire boat through part owner ship of a shared narrow boat to full blown live aboard status on his 57ft narrow boat “ Cor Blimey !! ” since 2002.
With pending retirement John set up the Soar Valley Helmsman Training Centre using all his knowledge and experience as instructional material for his students.
After a gap year in 2019 spent cruising the North Western reaches of the inland waterway system John is back refreshed and has joined forces with The Narrow Boats Skills Centre ready to impart his knowledge and experience to all and sundry.

John instructs on all boat based courses.

You can contact john direct on