Kate Saffin

CQ9R4986Boater, writer, storyteller and actor, Kate Saffin has lived on a narrowboat and told stories of the waterways as solo plays since 1999. She trained as a writer for stage and broadcast media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (MFA).

She adapted the waterway classic      Ramlin Rose; the Boatwoman’s story  by the late Sheila Stewart and has performed at canal festivals, in pub gardens and at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Other plays have retold the apparently true story of a brothel on a boat and a late coming of age for a pensioner who finds herself on holiday on a boat (Finding Libby).

Isobel’s War is based on interviews and existing accounts of the young women who worked on the boats during the second world war.

Kate Saffin’s performance is naturalistic, painfully funny, poised and thoroughly on top of the material (Fringe Review on Finding Libby Edinburgh Fringe Festival Aug 2013)

The Scotsman, Aug 8th 2005:
“SKILFULLY adapted from Sheila Stewart’s novel, Ramlin Rose, this excellent one-woman show tells the tale of Rose, a boatwoman on the Oxford canal… Kate Saffin is utterly convincing in the role of Rose… and manages the Talking Heads-style 40-minute monologue authoritatively.”

The Stage 2010:
“Through clever and sensitive … editing, Kate Saffin converts Shakespeare’s Richard III into the monologue of an imagined house servant, played with warm, realistic humour by Helen McGregor.”


Heather Wastie

web_imgp0645Heather Wastie is a poet, singer-songwriter and accordion player who has been involved with canals     for most of her life, cruising with her family on ex-working boat Laurel and, in the early days, getting involved as a child in campaigns to save them from extinction. She is The Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16. Her piece Idle Women and Judies was commissioned by the Canal & River Trust in 2014.

As Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster in 2013 Heather wrote poems and      songs inspired by people who worked in the carpet industry which she now performs. Her book Weaving Yarns was published by Black Pear Press in 2015.

She co-founded Brewers’ Troupe performance poetry company which specialises in poetry plays in pubs and works as an actor for the National Trust at Croome   Court in Worcestershire.

Heather Wastie – Wonderful performance full of knowledge and very entertaining. (Audience review of Idle Women and Judies Feb 2016)




Zoe Hunn

Tour and production manager

Zoe has been managing professional touring theatre productions for over 4 years, and has intermittently worked as a technician, photographer, stage manager, production manager, pyrotechnician, lighting designer, MC, set builder and as a performer over the last 14 years, touring the UK and over 20 countries internationally. She lives on a traditional narrowboat on the Stort and likes to play with motorbikes.





 Alex Bennett

Owner of Tench 

Alex has been boating since she was 19; she fell in on her in 1979 but it didn’t put her off though, and over the next 20 years she got her entire family involved in a succession of boating holidays.  In 2000, newly single, she told her children she was going to buy a narrowboat and live on it. The family all said ‘you’ll never do it’. It took a few years and some re evaluating of her life but in 2012 she bought Jemima. All of which led to lots of meeting people with connections to working boats and boatyards, go to the Alvercote gathering of historic boats, a bit of practice steering the supply boat, Auriga, and she got the historic boat bug. When she saw the FMC boat, Tench, for sale (having seen her at Alvecote and liked her that was it. Once the sale was complete the baptism of fire began! There was a lot of stemming up, going aground and getting rope and and polythene on the propeller but gradually, and with a lot of practice, she has travelled a lot of the system and is now very expert. She joins us to steer Tench as often as her full time job in the NHS allows.


Heather Boyce


Heather has been a liveaboard boater since 2009, is a qualified RYA Inland Helmsman Instructor, keen cyclist and explorer of the waterways (and everything within biking distance). She particularly likes lock wheeling…













Helen McGregor

Now is the Winter

…trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music Drama and made her professional début with the Citizens Theatre TAG Company in Glasgow, playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Subsequent professional theatre work includes As You Like It, again with TAG; seasons at Perth Rep, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Lyric Theatre Belfast, and the Royal National Theatre where she worked with Mike Alfreds (founder of Shared Experience) and Sir Richard Eyre. She also appeared in an episode of Taggart, and played Hermia in a CD recording of A Midsummer Night’s Dream combining the Shakespeare Text with Mendelssohn’s music. More recent roles include the Norse Goddess Vala in Vala: An Interactive Hypermovie developed by the University of Cambridge and the Swedish Institute of Technology, which was also performed as a live installation piece as part of a conference on interactive art in Reykjavik, and the Chorus leader in a production of Aristophanes The Clouds that was performed in Rome. In 2008 Helen played the lead role of cancer patient Vivian Bearing in the Oxford Theatre Guild production of Margaret Edson’s play Wit to great critical acclaim. Helen is also a writer and her first novel was published in the UK, Germany and the US.

Edinburgh appearances: RSAMD Production of Candleford – Harry Younger Hall (1982). Traverse Theatre production of The Innocents by Tom McGrath – Assembly Rooms (1984). TAG Theatre production of As You like It – Assembly Room (1986).

Of her performance in Wit (North Wall, 2008) Giles Woodeforde of the Oxford Times:
“In this Oxford Theatre Guild production … it’s the performance of Helen McGregor as Vivian Bearing that counts: it’s sparklingly humorous one minute, deeply moving the next, and totally convincing at all times. I very much doubt that anything better will be seen on any Oxford stage this year.”


  1. Idle Women says:

    […] by the women themselves. Not to be confused with Isobel’s War written and performed by Kate Saffin. See our Boaters’ Bookstore for books on the […]

  2. […] The Mikron Theatre, produced a play, Imogen’s War, written by Mike Lucas and Sarah Parks of Mikron, using material drawn from half a dozen diaries and books written by the women themselves. Not to be confused with Isobel’s War written and performed by Kate Saffin. […]