MILITARY veterans tried their hand at a variety of new skills from bricklaying, mortar mixing and countryside management under the watchful eyes Wilts and Berks Canal Trust volunteers.

The volunteers, who have dedicated many hours to restoring Pewsham Lock near Chippenham, shared their expertise with the veterans in an attempt to promote health and wellbeing among the group as well as provide them with valuable skills for life outside the military.

"Leaving the military or realising that your career choice may no longer be possible can be daunting, especially for those who are living with life-changing injuries and illnesses," sid Mike Lee, project manager at Help for Heroes.

"Working towards a new goal in life through career recovery can be extremely beneficial to an individual's overall wellbeing, often accelerating their personal recovery journey.

"This project will resonate with many of our military men and women who will already have some of the necessary skills and enjoy working outdoors as part of a team."

The Heritage Heroes project, which has been funded by the People's Postcode Lottery, focused on the top lock, the highest of the three locks which raises boats 29 feet on their way from Melksham and Lacock to Chippenham and beyond, where they also created a learning through play area.

Malcolm Hitchinson, Melksham, Calne and Chippenham project manager, said: “The veterans have been working incredibly hard since the beginning of June; they have endured some very hot weather, they have taught us a lot, and they have made a fantastic contribution to our restoration! We will be very sorry to see them go at the end of the project.”

MCC chair Dave Maloney added: “Hopefully, the relationships established during this project will continue, with some veterans already expressing an interest in continuing to volunteer with the Trust.

"Heritage Heroes was community engagement at its best, and we are confident that we will continue to build on this incredibly positive experience in the future."

Dave added: “This stretch of canal is a prime example of the progress we’re making and we hope that the H4H veterans’ efforts will inspire even more people to support the restoration campaign.

"We need people who can help with fundraising and events as well as engineering, bricklaying, digging and grass cutting; there are as many different jobs as there are volunteers!

“Together we can leave a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy.”