* The Canal & River Trust is offeroing the chance to help out on the canals.
Lock keeping has been a fixture on the canals for hundreds of years and the role of the modern-day volunteer lock keeper is to help the Trust look after the waterways, including helping boaters through the locks, providing a polite and friendly welcome to waterway visitors and helping to maintain many historic, listed locks.
Actor and adventurer Brian Blessed supported the first appeal during 2012 which saw over 250 people come forward and become volunteer lock keepers.
Now, the Trust is asking for public support to try and double these numbers in over 50 locations across the country.
Paul Corner, volunteer coordinator for the Canal & River Trust, said: “As a new charity we were heartened by the amazing support we received for this role last year.
"Volunteers are integral to the future of the nation’s waterways and our growing groups of volunteers have been making a huge difference to local canals and rivers up and down the country.
"This is one of the oldest and most iconic roles on the waterways so we’re asking the millions of people who visit the nation’s canals and rivers each year to get active and become a volunteer lock keeper.”
In a recent survey with volunteer lock keepers who took part in 2012, 99% said they planned to return in 2013 and over 70% of people said that ‘keeping fit and active’ was one of the major motivations for waterways volunteering. In total, they collectively contributed over 4,500 volunteer days.
Throughout the season, it’s also estimated the volunteer lock keepers assisted 1,500 boats and engaged with over 1,700 towpath visitors on average per week, helped reduce water loss by encouraging lock sharing and making sure lock paddles were closed and also improved safe passage through locks.
Paul added: “Working outdoors and staying fit have been a key incentive for people, as has a sense of pride in knowing they’re helping protect this 250-year-old working heritage. It’s extremely important to us that we offer volunteers something appealing where they feel like they’re making a difference which this role certainly does.
“The waterways are a national treasure that everyone can participate in and our volunteers have been able to provide so many additional benefits on top of the year round work Canal & River Trust staff carry out.
"Whether it’s helping a boat through the lock, talking to customers or local practical tasks, it can really make a huge difference to a visitor’s appreciation of the waterways in North Wales and make sure they’re supported for many more years to come.”
Volunteers can start quickly and no prior experience is necessary as a full induction, training and a uniform will be provided. The key qualities the Trust is looking for is enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
The Canal & River Trust will care for 1,654 locks and there are approximately 5 million ‘lockings’ each year (passages through locks). Over 32,000 boats now call the waterways home; a figure higher than at the height of the industrial revolution.
Full details about how to become a volunteer lock keeper and location details are available by:
· Visiting: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk
· Emailing: email@example.com
· Phoning: 0303 040 4040.