The Environment Agency is again looking for lock volunteers for the season on the non-tidal Thames.

It will be the fourth year vounteers have been used to help experienced lock- and weir-keepers and the agency hopes more than 200 will be recruited this year.

In previous years the agency has faced problems recruiting volunteers on the upper reaches of the Thames, from Oxford upstream, on locks away from centres of population. It has found it easier to recruit downstream.

Andrew Graham, Waterways Operations Manager at the Environment Agency, said:" Last year more than 70 new volunteers joined us taking our total to more than 200 active volunteers. This year we are looking for more to join a successful team.”

“Many of our volunteers have enjoyed their time on the locks so much they are already looking forward to starting again this year. For some, this will be their fourth year volunteering with us.” 

“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. 

"Whilst many of our volunteers live in communities local to the river, we are happy to accept applications from people who live a little further away from the Thames.  Enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and a helpful nature are the main attributes we are looking for in our volunteers.”

John Stevenson, a volunteer at Eynsham Lock said: “I was amazed what a busy life there is down on the river. Most people have no idea what is involved in keeping the river flowing for the enjoyment of everyone.

“It is fantastic exercise on the old beam locks and it certainly beats going to the gym any day, and is lots more fun!

“I have been surprised at the huge variety of boats which have come through the lock during the summer; from Dunkirk little ships, trans-atlantic rowing boats to massive narrow boats which can only just squeeze into the lock”.

 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 and candidates need to be able to offer at least one day per week between May and October.

For more information or an application pack please email or call 01491 828360.

Story dated March 19th 2014

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