The volunteer lock keeper scheme on the River Thames is gearing up for its sixth year, with the Environment Agency starting up its latest recruitment drive

Boaters and river lovers alike are being encouraged to sign up to become volunteer lock keepers on the non-Tidal Thames.

The Environment Agency has been recruiting volunteers to help operate the 135-mile stretch of river since 2010, but there are still vacancies for enthusiastic volunteers to get involved.

Demetri Somarakis, who manages the Environment Agency’s River Thames volunteers team told MBY:

“The service we provide boaters on the Thames is unrivalled by any other river in the world, but our ability to maintain such high standards relies on the significant contribution of our volunteers.

“Whilst there are opportunities across the whole of the Thames, some sites are more subscribed than others,” he added.

The Environment Agency is particularly keen for people to become volunteer lock keepers at some of its more remote, and scenic, Oxfordshire sites.

Full training is included, as well as a Crewsaver 150N lifejacket, and while no experience is needed, some knowledge of the local area is required.

“There’s a sense of community reaching out to the lock as well,” Demetri explains. “The volunteer should be able to tell boaters where the nearest pub, shop or post office is.”

Volunteers are expected to commit a minimum of one day per week throughout the summer season, which normally runs from May to September, but can be longer depending on the weather and popularity of the lock.

Hours vary depending on location, but a typical day will see a volunteer lock keeper helping out from 1000 to 1700.

Anyone looking to get involved is encouraged to e-mail thames.volunteers@environment-agency.gov.uk or call 0203 025 9628 as soon as possible.