Workplace Matters (WM), an ecumenical charity which takes Christian values into the workplace, has expanded its team of waterways chaplains by commissioning Barbara Davis, a Bishops Stortford resident who keeps a narrow boat, ‘Charm’, at Harlow. She is serving as a waterways chaplain for the boating community and others who use a 25 mile stretch of the River Stort – a tributary of the River Lea, which it joins at Hoddesdon.

The Rev Dr John Scott (centre) and Barbara Davis (right) during the commissioning service.

Barbara was commissioned at a special service held on the last day of the Ware Boat Festival, which is a three day festival based on and around the River Lea in Ware. The annual Festival is organised by the Inland Waterways Authority (IWA) Lea & Stort Branch.


In the presence of the Mayor of Ware, Rosemarie Standley;  the Chairman of the Ware Festival Committee, Councillor Phyllis Balham, and a crowd of over 60 onlookers including boaters, locals and supporters of the Waterways Chaplaincy, WM’s chief executive, the Rev Dr John Scott, aided by a senior waterways chaplain, the Rev Mike Shaw, led the commissioning service for Barbara. The music for the service was provided by the Harlow Salvation Army band, which played on a boat provided by the Harlow boat project, called ‘canalability’.


The service was organised by Lorraine Newman who, in addition to being a waterways chaplain is also a member of the Boaters’ Christian Fellowship – which provided the ‘after service’ refreshments.


John Scott commented: “We’re delighted to welcome Barbara and to mark her calling to be a waterways chaplain. WM’s work on the waterways in recent years has revealed an urgent need for more chaplains to help those who live on, and use, our rivers and canals. In the last year, the Canals & Rivers Trust has taken over responsibility for Britain’s waterways and has swiftly recognised the value of the work being done by WM’s waterways chaplains,” he added. “Indeed, the Trust is currently exploring extending the provision of waterways chaplains throughout all of Britain’s inland waterways.”


WM provides expertise in pastoral and spiritual care in the workplace, regardless of faith or gender, to all employees. The basic principle of chaplaincy is to provide an independent and confidential ‘listening ear’ encouragement and mutual support, helping to ‘bring meaning and purpose to work’.


John Scott said: “We believe that our chaplains supply a unique personal level of support that’s impossible to get anywhere else. WM networks with a range of faith groups and networks and recognises that faith is deeply entwined with every aspect of community and working life.”