Volunteers & families gather prior to sailing on the New Queen of the Thames (left)

Ninety Environment Agency volunteers and their families were treated to a river trip as an end-of-season thank you.

The trip for the volunteer assistant lock keepers was laid on by Windsor passenger boat firm French Brothers aboard its flagship Queen of the Thames.

Over the last three summers, the volunteers have assisted resident keepers operate the 45 locks along the non-tidal Thames.

Boat company managing director Chris French said: "We were very pleased to lay on the trip as gesture of appreciation for the excellent job the volunteers do. They are welcoming to visitors and helpful to boaters. And they do it with a smile."

Organiser Derek Tomlin said :"The trip came about because Chris French brought his boat through Hurley Lock where I volunteer as an Assistant Lock Keeper. He mentioned that the volunteers had really helped his crews get their boats through the locks quicker and easier and he offered to do a trip to say thank you.

"The EA sent out an email to all the volunteers and within three hours the trip was full."

Andrew Graham, EA Volunteers Manager said: "It has been another very succesful season for the volunteers and we are very pleased by the way the scheme has worked again.

"Over 200 volunteers worked on the river this year undertaking a variety of roles and we will be recruiting again for next year. Experience with boats or local knowledge are very useful but we give full training for all volunteers."

This year some of the volunteers are being kept on to help with winter maintenance on the river.

Although pleased with the response so far the agency is particularly keen to recruit volunteers for the river upstream from Oxford where the population is lower and therefore fewer people have come forward.

Contact via email here: thames.volunteers@environment-agency.gov.uk

Pictured below (left to right): Volunteer Derek Tomlin, organiser of the trip, Chris French of French Brothers and Andrew Graham, Environment Agency Volunteer Manager.

Story dated October 27th 2013


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