The Environment Agency has launched its annual appeal for volunteers on the non-tidal Thames.

The agency is looking for people to offer at least a day a week working at one or more of the 45 locks it operates along 135 miles of the river.

Demetri Somarakis, who manages the River Thames Volunteers Team said: "“The service we provide boaters on the Thames is unrivalled by any other river in the world.

“Our ability to maintain such high standards relies on the significant contribution of our volunteers.  They give up their spare time to work under the expert guidance of our full-time professional staff, and do so full of enthusiasm and friendliness.

" We, and the rest of river’s boating fraternity, are hugely appreciative and we look forward to welcoming back many of our veterans and hopefully lots of new faces to our locks this season.”

Peter Le Gros who volunteers at Hurley Lock said: “I used to fish here as a boy, and coming back now that I’ve retired to help boaters is a great fun. The scheme is very well run and it’s lovely being out in the fresh air – it’s a really lovely thing to do.”

Sandy Jeffrey works at Goring Lock and said: “I popped down to the lock for an ice cream one day and the next thing I know I’ve been volunteering here for four years!

“I love coming on the lock, because the people are so lovely. As a lady volunteer, I share lots of jokes and giggles about the men with women boaters – of which there are quite a few – and they like seeing a woman on the lock. So, more lady volunteers please!”

Although there are opportunities at every lock, the Environment Agency is particularly keen for more people to work at some of the more remote sites in Oxfordshire. It provides training, workwear and travel expenses.

Over the course of last year’s boating season, which traditionally runs from April to September, nearly 250 volunteers provided more than 5000 days of support between them, the best figures since the agency launched its volunteer scheme in 2011.

For more information or an application pack, email or call 0203 025 9628.

Story dated March 25th 2016