Mr Brian Cassells, has been awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours List. Brian was recommended for this award for services to the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, an all-Ireland voluntary association.Brian has for years represented the aims of IWAI as a respected voice lobbying and advising national and local government authorities as well as other bodies on many matters related to waterways development. Brian is immediate past President of the IWAI and is currently a member of the IWAI National Executive. Brian also played a key role in promoting the Ulster Canal Restoration Project and is current Chairman of the Lough Neagh Advisory Committee.
The OBE is a great recognition for all his tireless work, efforts, campaigning and achievements, supported by his wife Maree. Brian has said that he is "delighted" to be awarded an OBE, in the 2010 New Year Honours List. Born on the shores of Lough Neagh, he is married with two daughters. He is an avid local historian and has researched and written widely on inland navigations and on other aspects of local history. He was until retiring a few years ago Headmaster of King’s Park Primary School in Lurgan. He was secretary of Craigavon Historical Society for many years and still serves on the committee.
He is currently Chairman of the local museum committee where he has embarked on an ambitious plan to establish a waterways museum at Oxford Island. IWAI is a voluntary body of waterways enthusiasts, founded in 1954. It was formed to promote the development, use and maintenance of Ireland's navigable rivers and canals. When the Shannon was almost totally undeveloped for pleasure boating, the IWAI contested the building of low bridges, thus helping ensure the development of the river as a national asset for waterways tourism. Later the IWAI successfully prevented the threatened closure of the Grand Canal in Dublin. The IWAI has worked to assist the improvement of the Barrow and to focus interest and activity on the restoration of the Royal Canal, the river Boyne, the Kilbeggan Line of the Grand Canal, the Ulster Canal the Newry canal and other closed navigations.
The IWAI is the respected voice of the waterways, represented by 20 branches of the organisation, comprising thousands of members. The IWAI has experience working with national and local government, statutory agencies and development bodies, and the community, voluntary and business sectors, lobbying and advising protect and promote the long term development of the waterways. [www.iwai.ie]