Environment Agency – Anglian Waterways Volunteer Scheme: by Roger Green, Volunteer
The EA volunteer scheme has really developed momentum this year, thanks to the co-ordination, management and support by Cambs ACRE.
16 volunteer lock keepers have been trained in 2018. This included classroom training on health and safety, operational procedures and how to deal with difficult customers! I am pleased to say that the later has been unnecessary!
Following this we had practical training at various lock sites, led by the River Inspector team. This ensured that those with no, or little, boating experience could quickly become confident and benefit from others with more experience.
My volunteering days have been spent mainly at either St Ives or Houghton locks. We work in pairs and tend to be available from Friday through to Monday. The Houghton and St Ives team consists of only 4 active volunteers, this means that coverage is not as extensive as we would like. Despite this we have helped 283 boats to lock though on our patch.Other volunteers operate during the season at the Denver complex and Northampton marina.
In addition to lock keeping we have been involved in ground clearance at Northampton lock island, helped to staff the EA stands Bedford and St Neots River Festivals. We proved useful by providing help and advice about licensing, facilities and boat ownership and assisting passages through St Neots lock before and after the festival.
We will be back in action at the locks in April 2019 and during the winter will be helping with several practical projects and joint training with EA staff.
This has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, “working” outdoors, helping other people, (including the very needy stag and hen party day boats) and last but not least being thanked by the skippers and crew on every boat passing through “our” locks – truly wonderful!