Press release

Thank you to the volunteers from the River Thames

On Thursday 27 October 2016 volunteers will be given awards as recognition for all their hard work and commitment over the past year.

A volunteer lock keeper
A volunteer lock keeper

As a ‘thank you’ to our volunteer lock keepers, the Environment Agency will be hosting a celebration on board the French Brothers ‘The New Queen of the Thames’, which is the largest boat on the Upper Thames.

Demetri Somarakis, Environment Agency Thames Volunteer Team Project Manager, said:

Our volunteers help ensure that the navigational Thames is running both efficiently and safely throughout the summer. Once again we have exceeded previous year’s figures of attendance and I am very proud to say we are now up to 252 volunteers, our highest number of active volunteers since we began in 2011.

Today is the day where we can thank and award our volunteers for all their hard work and commitment to the River.

Since 2011 the Volunteer Assistant Lock Keeper project has prospered with numbers of volunteers increasing.

John Stevenson from Woodstock, Oxford, who has been volunteering at Eynsham Lock since 2013 said:

I absolutely love it! The people you meet are always in a happy mood and it’s a great way to stay fit – far better than going to the gym. I just don’t want to give it up. I thoroughly recommend it!

Volunteers will embark on the French Brothers ‘The New Queen of the Thames’ for a trip around the Windsor area, followed by an awards presentation where Peter Ainsworth, Environment Agency Board Member will award volunteers for their service.

Chris French who is the managing director of the French Brothers fleet said:

We are a family business who have been operating on the Thames since 1978. We run trips, services and private charters in the middle Thames and are very happy to be hosting this event once again.

The River Thames Volunteers are a fantastic, helpful bunch who work alongside the experienced lock and weir keepers. They always offer assistance to my crews. They provide an important addition to the safe operation of the locks and positively contribute to the smooth passage of boat traffic on the Thames.

The River Thames Volunteer Team of the Environment Agency are keen on hearing from anyone who is interested in helping on the Thames for summer 2017. Training will be provided for all successful candidates, as well as a selection of 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 river.

As well as helping boats to pass through the lock, volunteers can use what they know about the Thames and its surroundings to help inform visitors about all it has to offer. Enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and a helpful nature are the main attributes required.

Notes to editors

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 advantageous and candidates need to be able to offer at least 1 day per week between May and October.

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.

Photographs available upon request.

Published 21 October 2016