Appeal for volunteer lock keepers in the West Midlands

British Waterways is appealing for people to become volunteer lock keepers on canals in the West Midlands.

Volunteers would welcome visitors, help boaters through locks and maintain the surrounding area.

The appeal involves six sites in Birmingham, Warwickshire and Staffordshire.

British Waterways, which is soon to become The Canal and River Trust, is responsible for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales.

In Staffordshire, volunteers are wanted to help at Bratch, Stone and Fradley.

There are two sites in Birmingham, at Aston Locks and Farmer's Bridge, and in Warwickshire help is wanted at Hatton.

Ed Moss, national volunteering manager with British Waterways, said they got enquiries about volunteering on a "daily basis".

Image caption British Waterways worker Les Sumpter thinks it is a "good idea".

"When talking to people about volunteer lock-keeping, loads of people want to help so we're willing to take that passion, enthusiasm and offer to really help us on the waterways," he said.

Les Sumpter, who has worked for British Waterways for 25 years and is lock keeper at Lapworth, said he thought it was a "good idea".

"I personally think if it's going to help, it's wonderful," he said.

He said volunteers could "talk to the public, the boaters or fishermen or the person wheeling the little child up in the pram, to have a conversation and make them feel welcome".

The appeal in the West Midlands is part of a campaign across England and Wales to find volunteers for 61 sites.

It is being backed by actor Brian Blessed said he had loved canals and rivers ever since a child.

A full induction and training will be given to volunteers.

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