The Environment Agency is looking for volunteers again to help keep boats on the Thames moving smoothly. 

The annual appeal comes as it emerges that another cutback in EA funding is expected soon.

One of the budget implications for the river is that few seasonal staff will be employed at locks. A recent meeting of river users heard the EA expects to work with only its permanent lock keepers, its relief lock keepers and volunteers this summer.

River User Group 6, covering Henley to Maidenhead, heard assisted lock passage during lunch breaks may not be achievable in 2015.

Meanwhile launching the search for volunteers, Andrew Graham, Thames Waterway Manager at the agency, said: “I am delighted to say that since 2011 our Volunteer Assistant Lock Keeper project has gone from strength to strength.  Numbers increase, bringing new faces to the river, but what remains constant is the enthusiasm brought by our volunteers.

"Last year 225 volunteers attended our sites throughout the season and we have already had a good number expressing their interest in returning this year. However,  we are still keen on hearing from anyone who is interested in joining us this summer.”

Lock volunteers need to be relatively fit as the role involves lots of physical activity especially walking up and down the lock side. A keen interest in river life 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 email or call 01491 828360

Story dated February 9th 2015