John Lewis and Waitrose team up with community boat Electra.


Tenants from sheltered housing in Bletchley, for people living with dementia, were treated to a canal boat cruise on Thursday 28th May, thanks to the generosity of the John Lewis Partnership.

Jane Wolfson from the all-electric community boat, Electra said, “We are delighted that John Lewis and Waitrose are sponsoring five cruises, which allow members of the local community the chance to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes”.

Elaine Wales, Community Liaison Coordinator, from the John Lewis Partnership said it was a pleasure to be able to work closely with volunteers from the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust, to provide canal trips for tenants of local care homes, Flowers House and Courtney’s Lodge.

“This was made possible as part of our Give a Little Love Community funding programme. It is heart-warming to see the residents really enjoying a trip on Electra,” she added.

Activities coordinator, Laura Few, from Flowers House agreed, “Our tenants really look forward to cruises on Electra. The boat has a wheelchair lift, so we can take someone who wouldn’t normally be able to access a cruise on a canal boat.”

Electra runs a Sponsorship Scheme for organisations willing to fund sponsored cruises for groups in the Milton Keynes Community that, for whatever reason, would not normally be able to access cruises on the canal.  Local companies that would like to join the sponsorship scheme are invited to contact Electra on

Caption: left to right, Elaine Wales, John Lewis Partnership, on board Electra presenting cheque to Electra’s Lead cabin Host, James Clifton and Volunteer Chair Jane Wolfson, with Laura Few from Flowers House.

Caption: Flowers House tenants about to board Electra

All images by Adrian Court

For more information:

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust

Media contact: James Clifton, B&MK Waterway Trust

Electra was launched in May 2021 and is the first all-electric trip boat to be built by Warwickshire-based boatbuilders Colecraft Engineering, run by Gary Cole along with a team of 20 supporting steelwork, carpentry, engineering and sales staff. The boat uses an all-electric propulsion unit from Fischer Panda. The electric propulsion batteries are charged from both mains power and on-board solar panels.

The boat can carry up to 12 guests; it includes lavatory provision and access lift for users of standard size wheelchairs. Cruises are run in line with public health guidance. The boat is well ventilated, has an air filter and is sanitised before each cruise.

The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust has funded the construction of the boat, with generous contributions from Crest Nicholson, via Milton Keynes Council s106 funding for the Campbell Wharf development, the Milton Keynes Community Foundation, and donations from Trust members. Kitting out of the boat was funded by a number of local Councils and other organisations.

John Lewis launched its Give a Little Love (GALL) campaign last Christmas. They donate over £3 million every year to help those in need. They work with charity partners, FareShare and Home-Start, and local community organisations to make sure the support reaches those who need it most.

Flowers House is purpose built housing, with care development provided by Milton Keynes Council in conjunction with Aragon Housing. There are 34 specially designed flats and 24 hour individually tailored care and support to support the tenants needs and manage risk effectively, whilst also offering tenants privacy. Flowers House tenants must meet the criteria for Milton Keynes Housing, be aged 60 years or over and have a medical diagnosis of Dementia.

Courteney’s Lodge is a ‘with care‘ scheme for tenants with dementia. The service is owned and managed by Milton Keynes Council. There is a Registered Manager and on-site care team to provide personal care.

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust

The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust was established in 1995 to promote a new 16-mile Waterway Park, incorporating a new broad canal linking the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes with the River Great Ouse in Bedford.

Running trip boats is a key activity for the Trust, raising funds and awareness. The Trust’s cruises let thousands of local people enjoy being on their local waterway in Bedford or Milton Keynes, demonstrating the value that Waterway Parks can bring.

The route of the proposed new Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Park is protected by local authority policies and included in the Local Plans of the three authorities along the route. The Trust is currently lobbying for its inclusion in plans for local water resource management and as part of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc infrastructure. The Trust works with a range of partners to ensure opportunities to integrate the Waterway into development and thereby maximise delivery of local benefits. The Trust is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.