An army of flood volunteers have been praised for their “vital” role.

The Canals and Rivers Trust said that since Christmas, volunteers, aged from eight to 80 gave over 3,000 hours to repair towpaths, rebuild walls and clean up mud across the region.

The selfless helpers also helped to clear rubbish and other debris from the Aire and Calder Navigation, Rochdale Canal and Calder and Hebble Navigation, whose banks burst and caused devastation to nearby communities such as Elland, Mirfield and Hebden Bridge.

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The figure is the equivalent of one person working eight hours a day for a full working year and it is estimated that the volunteers’ efforts have been worth more than £40,000, though the benefit in helping to reopen stretches of towpath and canal is incalculable.

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Highlights for the Trust included the 100 people who volunteered in Elland to clear mud from the towpath, create a temporary pathway around Park Nook Lock and rebuild a dry stone wall that had been destroyed.

The group included junior soldiers from Harrogate Army Foundation College who pumped mud off the towpath as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

David Baldacchino

David Baldacchino, waterway manager for the Canal River Trust said; “This is a real milestone and local people should be rightly proud.

“We’ve been blown away by the role that volunteers have played in helping to get parts of the region’s waterways back on their feet.

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“We’ve seen people from far and wide wanting to play their part.

“The efforts of the volunteers have not only reopened sections of canal but also enabled our teams to get on with the important task of planning the bigger repair jobs.

“There’s still much to do and so we’ll be organising more volunteering opportunities in the coming weeks and months.”