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Connie Gadd, Helen Swift and Jane Harman

Original Founders


Over thirty years involved with barges, very much a visiting girlfriend then in time wife, Connie's barge adventures started in 1983 with the Lady Daphne, the Beric and then in particular with SB May. Connie's husband Gerald went from third hand to Skipper, to owner in 2011.  Gerald's barge adventures took him to a vast number of ports around the UK and also Belguim, Holland and France spending long periods away from home.  Connie never hesitated for an opportunity to join Gerald wherever he was on his travels and would often gather the children and a bag, jump on a train or ferry and off they went.

Following in the family footsteps Gerald was a licensed Thames Waterman and Craft Owning Freeman of the Watermens' Company and as London was the May's summer home, they both shared a love of that rich and wonderful river.  Living for 30 years or so in Chelmondiston and Pin Mill, having the best of both very different worlds.


Welcoming aboard guests from all walks of life to share a few hours with them on May.  It is this welcome that we all remember, which formed the seed of inspiration for this project. It is the timbers of her hold and the warmth they shared to the people who were lucky enough to be welcomed aboard. Gerald died in January 2020.

20 years as a Senior Executive PA in a large communications company, before becoming a seasoned co-ordinator and administrator with life's events and with a lifelong interest in art & William Morris.  

Now an artist, loves painting.


Helen has been involved with the heritage workboat community for nearly 20 years, including the restored Thames Sailing Barge Dawn with her husband Gerard. Alongside Gerard, a skipper for over 45 years, they have been rebuilding wooden clinker heritage workboats for many years and both are hugely important in the future of these historic vessels, as well as the community that surrounds them.

Previous to this life, Helen ran her own catering company with a vast array of clients and a focus on bringing high quality, simple food to as many people as she could reach. Since leaving this trade, this part of Helens' life has never fully been left to sleep and there has been a constant itch to investigate new possibilities within the world of food and baking.

Balancing the raising of four children and the complications that life often throws at you, there has rarely been a dull moment in her life.


Jane is the first female chairperson of the Sailing Barge Association in its 40 year history. Such is the impact that Jane has made in the Barge community over the years of being involved, alongside her husband Andy and their family. They have run the St Osyth Boatyard for over 25 years and been involved in many rebuilds and restoration projects of heritage vessels.

Alongside this, Jane has been the mainstay in the running of their Thames Sailing Barge EDME. A constant front runner in many barge matches, they have welcomed a variety of people aboard involved in the crewing of Edme, as well as a favourite place for their large family gatherings. Being one of five girls there is always an  ample supply of children wanting to come play on Edme.

Away from this world Jane qualified into nursing as well as bringing up three children and now in recent times is working for the NCT as a breastfeeding councillor supporting mothers with feeding their babies.

Connie Gadd, Helen Swift and Jane Harman
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