I'm the Site Manager at Foxton Locks. It's the longest, steepest staircase flight in the UK, and a lovely place to visit. We usually get about 4.5-5,000 boats come through a year, as well as around 320,000 walking visitors.
My day-to-day is much more than admin and paperwork. I like to make sure I get out every day, to check the locks and meet our visitors. Wherever possible I work on the tools with staff and volunteers myself, and get involved with the coaching and training. It's important to know that we're all working together.
A life-long love of canals
The canals have always been a big part of my life. My dad worked for the Trust for 40 years, back when it was British Waterways, and I grew up in a canal-side house. My dad was in customer operations – piling, dredging, water control, he was even a lock keeper at Foxton. He taught me everything I know about canals.
I wanted to join the Trust as soon as I left school, but there were no opportunities at the time. So I did a carpentry apprenticeship and worked as a joiner for about 10 years. But my goal was always to work with the canals, so I continued to write letters to the Trust, keeping in touch and looking out for the right role for me.
Eventually, I was offered a role at the Trust. For the first five years, I often got to work with my dad. He’s retired now, and it was great to get that time working alongside him.
I can honestly say the Trust has been fantastic. They’ve really looked after me and I’d encourage anyone to take the chance and explore the opportunities the Trust can give you. After a few years, I got the role as Team Leader for the Grand Union North’s Customer Operations team, and after that, I became the Foxton Locks site manager.
Foxton Locks in the lockdown
Normally we’re a busy team with over sixty amazing volunteers, and on a beautiful sunny weekend, we can get around three or four thousand visitors. Right now, of course, things are much quieter.
Our volunteers are isolating at home, but I’m still here looking after the locks, along with Julie, who’s a waterway operative based at Foxton. We’re both currently working from home when we can, but we also need to visit the locks every day to monitor the water levels and do important safety checks - while staying 2 metres away from each other of course. We also come in to help boaters who’ve booked ahead to let us know if they need to pass through the locks for essential travel.
I love my job – the variety and the people I work with. But the best bit is doing the same work that my dad did, something that sparked my own enthusiasm for the canals.