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

Lindsey Hood

Lindsey first purchased her 65ft narrowboat 22 years ago. Initially moored in London she then set herself free to become a continuous cruiser on the Waterways of England.
In 2016 Lindsey qualified as a RYA Helmsman, in 2017 she acquired her Boatmasters Licence and has recently qualified as a RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Instructor.
Lindsey is available for “Own Boat Courses” on the River Lee & Thames, Regents Canal, and The Grand Union Canal.
You can contact Lindsey 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 Narrowboat 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

Alistair Chapman

Alistair has lived locally in the countryside all of his life. From an early age he has always loved the canals, walking along the towpaths and fishing all day. Finally after spending 25 years motor boating off the south coast Alistair moved to hiring narrowboats before finally buying his own. Alistair has worked in the hospitality industry for most of his life and now he is semi retired he is spending as much time as he can on the canals.

Alistair instructs on all boat based courses.

You can contact Alistair direct on

Kevan Ball

Kevan has been fascinated with boats from a very early age starting with canoes and sailing dinghies before “running away to sea” where he spent over 10 years sailing on all sorts of vessels all around the world. After coming back on shore and deciding he needed to get a proper job Kevan started instructing at a local sailing club and now hold RYA instructors certificates for a number of boating disciplines including Inland Waterways and Sailing. Kevan says its great fun to be able to pass the excitement and skills others have shared with him while messing about in boats.

Kevan instructs on all boat based courses.

You can contact john direct on