I work full time caring for parks and open spaces, so I greatly value the waterways. This is especially true in our urban environment, where they provide a peaceful oasis to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and provide valuable habitats for wildlife.
I am responsible for working the locks, assisting boaters safely through the locks and answering any queries that may arise from towpath users and visitors. We are the eyes and ears for the Trust and so also report any environmental issues, such as graffiti and vandalism. We also make improvements ourselves such as clearing litter, painting the lock side barriers and passing on boaters' concerns. There's also time to have a cuppa and watch the waters go by.
I have met some great people through volunteering with the Trust; other volunteers with a wealth of knowledge on London's waterways, many and varied boaters and towpath users from all over the world. From a Danish Architecture student who had sailed to London, to residents who have seen so many changes in East London and the long term live aboards who have fantastic stories to tell. You never know who you're going to meet.
Fantastic stories to tell
My favourite volunteering moment was at the East London Waterways Festival in the summer. The weather was wonderful, and the waterways and Olympic Park were buzzing with families taking parting in canoeing, rowing and dragon boat racing.
For those thinking of volunteering with the Trust don't hesitate, do it! You will have the opportunity to have real input and influence, helping us to keep the waterways thriving. If you have any good ideas for improvements or activities, then the Trust will encourage and help you achieve this.