Eric Glendenning: being on the water keeps the mind active

Dapdune Belle on the river Wey

Eric Glendenning may be 83 but he’s not showing any signs of slowing down. In fact since retirement he has spent a lot of his free time taking people up and down the River Wey in one of our most unusual volunteer roles.

Following two years National Service in the Royal Navy and a career spanning 40 years with Lloyds Bank, he now takes people to see the the countryside we care for alongside the River Wey in a boat called the Dapdune Belle. 

Eric was introduced to the 12-seater boat 10 years ago by a friend, and has been volunteering ever since. Since retiring, he dedicates several days a month to the National Trust, not only entertaining families on the short journey to Guildford, but chaperoning brides to wedding ceremonies at the local Masonic hall, and escorting day-trippers to the 18th-century Shalford Mill. He also ferries day-trippers upstream from Dapdune Wharf to Guildford in Surrey several times a month, providing an erudite and amusing commentary along the way.

Eric behind the wheel of the Dapdune Belle
Eric behind the wheel of the Dapdune Belle
Eric behind the wheel of the Dapdune Belle

The Wey was one of the first British rivers to be made navigable, opening in 1653 to give Guildford merchants a highway to London. Recounting the 350-year history of the waterway has, Eric says, helped to keep his brain active. 

A life-long lover of boats, Eric joined the Royal Navy in 1954. He spent two years at sea aboard a destroyer and was often in the Mediterranean, including in 1956, a spell of active duty off Cyprus, which was then regarded as a war zone.

Following completion of his service in the Royal Navy he accepted a job at Lloyds Bank. It was here that he was later introduced to off-shore sailing and he eventually qualified as a day skipper aboard a 60ft schooner. Holidays were also spent on the water, aboard narrowboats or sailing dinghies in coastal waters. 

It is this love of being afloat, as well as the joy of meeting people and the desire to keep active in his later years, that keeps him coming back to the River Wey, 10 years after he first set eyes on the Dapdune Belle.