press release

10 January 2024


The nation’s largest canal charity, Canal & River Trust, whose ongoing mission includes protecting and preserving 520 miles of waterways in the West Midlands, has announced the appointment of Henriette Breukelaar as the new director for the region from 1 April 2024.

Henriette has had a diverse career, most recently as CEO at Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. Prior to that, she spent four years as an executive director at ExtraCare Charitable Trust, four years as director at High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and ten years as partnerships director with the regional development agency.

Although she doesn’t formally join the Trust until April, Henriette will be taking the opportunity over the coming weeks to start spending time with the Trust’s team of staff, volunteers, and partner organisations.

Julie Sharman, chief operating officer at Canal & River Trust, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Henriette to the Trust. She will be an inspiring leader for the West Midlands, whose former industrial canals are uniquely placed to support the recovery of wildlife and bring nature into cities, improve community wellbeing, tackle health inequalities, and support jobs and the regional economy.

“There are challenges ahead to keep our 250-year-old waterways safe and available to all, as more frequent extreme weather events take a toll alongside significant funding challenges. Henriette’s experience will be invaluable in that journey.

“Ahead of his retirement from the Trust, I’d also like to thank Adnan Saif for his enthusiasm and commitment as regional director, including ensuring the canals were so well showcased as part of Coventry 2021 UK City of Culture, and that they played a key part in celebrating the region at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”

Henriette, who originates from the Netherlands but has chosen to spend much of her working life in the West Midlands, said: “I am passionate about the region, the people, its culture and heritage. Canals are central to life in the West Midlands and an adequately-funded and well looked after canal network is so important for the health and wellbeing of this special place. I’m excited to be joining the Trust at this pivotal time.”

For further media requests please contact:

Sarah Rudy, Canal & River Trust

m 07788 691219 e [email protected]


Notes to Editors

The Canal & River Trust cares for and brings to life 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England & Wales. We believe waterways have the power to make a difference to people’s lives and that spending time by water can make us all healthier and happier. By bringing communities together to make a difference to their local waterway, we are creating places and spaces that can be used and enjoyed by everyone, every day.