Environment Agency Renews Volunteer Lock Assistant Campaign

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 07:15 GMT Jump to Comments

After the success of last year’s volunteer lock assistant campaign the Environment Agency is once again rolling out its programme to help keep Britain’s busiest river running smoothly.

Working alongside professional lock and weir keepers, volunteers will have the opportunity to spend their days outdoors, helping boats through locks and gaining real hands-on experience in operating the locks along the iconic River Thames.

Andrew Graham, Waterways Volunteer Manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“This is the second year we have invited volunteers to help us manage and operate our locks along the Thames, and we hope to build on the success of last year.

“We had more than 80 volunteers helping us out along the river during the boating season last year, and we want to extend the invitation to others who want to get involved.

“People don’t have to live right next to the River Thames to volunteer with us; we want people who live in the wider community to get more involved too. As well as helping boats to pass through the lock, volunteers can use what they know about the Thames and its surroundings to help us to inform visitors about everything it has to offer. We are expecting a busy year with Thames with the Queen’s Jubilee pageant and the Olympic rowing at Dorney Lake, so the knowledge and enthusiasm of local volunteers will be invaluable”

On-the-job training will be provided for all successful candidates, as well as some branded uniform. The Environment Agency will also provide the best opportunities for volunteers to increase their knowledge of the River Thames while building on their passion for the environment.

Two people who volunteered last year were David Machin, from Steeple Aston near Bicester, and David Thomas of Staines.

Mr Machin, who volunteered at Godstow Lock, said: “My favourite aspect of being a volunteer is working with boaters and boats on a regular basis, talking with them and the permanent lock keepers. But the highlight had to be my involvement with the David Walliams Thames Swim for Sports Relief. David came through the lock when I was on duty and gave us a big piece of cake as a reward for our help! I can't wait for the next-boating season to start where I can spend the day at a lovely lock."

Mr Thomas, another volunteer at Penton Hook Lock, said: “I can think of nothing more enjoyable than spending the day at a busy lock, helping boaters out to enjoy themselves,-and keeping company with knowledgeable Environment Agency staff."

Lock volunteers need to be relatively fit as the role involves lots of walking and physical activity. A keen interest in river life and the environment is also a must with candidates offering at least one day per week between May and September .

The River Thames is a destination for boating enthusiasts throughout the year, but during the summer it becomes the focus of activity for boaters, walkers, festivals and events especially at weekends.

For more information or an application pack please email thames.volunteers@environment-agency.gov.uk or call 01491 828360.

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