For the last 4 years volunteers have been assisting our Lock Staff on the Thames at the 45 locks along its length between Lechlade and Teddington. Now, ahead of our fifth season, we invite you to apply to become a Volunteer Assistant Lock Keeper at a lock near you.
The Environment Agency, which is navigation authority for the Thames, is now recruiting for the 2015 season and are looking for volunteers who can commit to assisting at least one day a week between May and the end of September. Volunteers can agree their days with lock keepers but need to be available from 10 to 5. Volunteering is a great way to meet people and to find out more about the Thames, its history, wildlife and management. At the same time volunteers know that they are doing something worthwhile that is really appreciated.
Roy Poysor who volunteers at Iffley Lock said:
"Since becoming a volunteer lock keeper I am absorbed in a completely different environment where my assistance is greeted by the enthusiastic boating fraternity who give me immense pleasure with their friendship and banter"
Our Volunteer Assistant Lock Keepers work alongside paid lock keepers. They help boats pass through the lock safely: taking ropes, directing traffic, and operating sluices and lock gates. They help maintain the site: painting, tidying and gardening. They provide information to visitors, be they on foot or afloat, so that they can make the best of their time on the river. Visitors really appreciate the local knowledge that volunteers can provide.
All applicants are invited to an assessment at a local lock. Here they will have the role explained to them and be shown what it involves in practical terms. They will also be assessed to decide which site may be most appropriate for them and to ensure that they have the physical capabilities required. After successful completion of the assessment, they attend an induction course which focuses on safety and preparing them for the lock side.
On the lock side the volunteers follow a documented training programme before being signed off to take charge of the lock on their own. This will only be for short periods, while the paid keeper is at lunch for example.
William Partridge who volunteers at Benson Lock had the following to say:
“2015 will be my fifth year as a volunteer lock keeper. I have enjoyed every moment of it, come rain or shine. I look forward to it in the knowledge that I am helping boaters and lock staff alike. It gives me great pleasure to make a contribution”
Volunteers are provided with uniform and can claim mileage for travel to and from a lock local to them. They also receive a monthly newsletter which keeps them in touch with what is going on along the river and other activities of the Environment Agency.
If you would like to find out more about volunteering on the Thames and to receive an information pack and application form, please contact the Volunteer team on 01491 828360 or email firstname.lastname@example.org