Trust urges more volunteers to take part in popular canal lock keepers scheme

Step up to join new volunteer lock keeping team

A narrow boat negotiates Five Rise Locks in Bingley

Penny Smith

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Aire/Worth Valley Reporter

The Canal & River Trust and TV presenter Penny Smith are inviting people to become volunteer lock keepers this summer working at historic sites including Bingley’s famous Five Rise Locks.

A total of 380 volunteers took up this iconic waterways role last year to help keep the nation’s canals flowing over the busy summer months.

And this year new sites selected on the Leeds and Liverpool canal in Yorkshire include Bingley Five Rise, Gargrave and Bank Newton Locks.

Ideal candidates will enjoy spending time outdoors while meeting people in their local community.

The roles cover the main boating and visitor season from March to October and each volunteer commits to one or two days a week. No previous experience is needed as full training is given, and each volunteer wears a Canal & River Trust uniform to identify them to visitors and boaters.

Broadcaster and writer Penny Smith, who is backing the campaign, says: “I am a huge fan of Britain’s canals – they’re fascinating and calming in equal measure.

“But my local canal is more than just a source of inspiration for my books – it’s a very special place for moments of contemplation or to simply watch the world go by.

“I am very happy to support the Canal & River Trust in all their work preserving our heritage.

“As someone who is indoors a lot either in a studio at 6am when presenting my breakfast show on BBC London or working from home, I see the work of the volunteer lock keepers as a great excuse to get out into the fresh air, meet the locals, get fit and make new friends. You might fall in love... even if it’s only with a heron!”

Matt Taylor, volunteering co-ordinator for the Canal & River Trust, said: “We had an amazing response from the public last year to our recruitment drive and 99 per cent of volunteers enjoyed it so much, they’re coming back again this summer.

“We have several new sites that require teams or existing locations where we’d like more people to come and help us. Working outdoors and staying fit have always been incentives for people of all ages as well as giving them a sense of pride knowing they are part of an army of people helping to protect this 200-year-old place for people and wildlife.

“The enthusiasm and dedication of our volunteers is magnificent and they are crucial in keeping our waterways alive for the thousands of people and holidaymakers who walk or boat along them.”

Anyone who wants to become a volunteer lock keeper or are interested in other ways to volunteer on a local canal or river should visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer.

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