Lock-keeper saves two during floods as redundancy talks continue

Abingdon lock-keeper Richard Hawkins has been praised for helping to save two lives during the floods

Abingdon lock-keeper Richard Hawkins has been praised for helping to save two lives during the floods

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

A LOCK-KEEPER who could lose his job later this year has been praised for saving two people from flood waters in recent weeks.

On Saturday Richard Hawkins, 26, from Abingdon, helped stop a boat from sinking when it came loose from its moorings and was being pulled towards the weir.

Mr Hawkins, who has been a lock-keeper for seven years and lives at the lock house, was woken by the boat owner at 7.30am asking for help.

He pulled the boat to the river bank using a rope, but when the owner tried to get on board he slipped and fell into the river.

Mr Hawkins threw him a rope and helped him out of the water.

While the owner dried off and warmed up, Mr Hawkins piloted the boat to the opposite bank where, with the assistance of his girlfriend, Lizzie Spokes, 25, he moored it safely.

He said: “I just reacted in a way anyone would when someone is in trouble, trying to stay calm and using methodical thinking to work out how best to help.

“Looking back I’m just relieved I was on hand and had the experience to do something useful.”

On February 9, Mr Hawkins grabbed a small boy who had slipped over on the flooded river bank and was being dragged by the fast-flowing flood water towards the main river channel.

The Environment Agency commended Mr Hawkins for his quick-thinking.

General workers’ union the GMB warned last night that Mr Hawkins’ job as resident at Abingdon Lock would disappear if the EA was allowed to implement plans to abolish resident keepers.

All residential lock keepers on the Thames are currently subject to consultation on redundancy as part of 10 per cent EA cuts from April 1.

The agency is looking at selling lock houses to raise money.But yesterday waterways duty officer for the EA James Overy said: “Mr Hawkins isn’t being made redundant in April and I commend his actions in helping this boat owner.

“We are prioritising incident response above all other work.

“With this in mind, we are reviewing the timetable for the Environment Agency’s change programme and will not be entering a formal consultation with staff until the flooding has subsided.

“Our staff are trained in water safety and how to get people out of lock chambers but they are not trained to deal with other emergencies and we don’t expect them to.”

Comments (6)

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9:40am Tue 18 Feb 14

Yellowlines says...

Well done young man. Our lockkeeper at Osney also tried to revive a man on a mobility scooter recently who had fallen into flood water. When will the Environment Agency realise that these guys are vital to the safety of the public. Not only do they make decisions to operate weirs to help alleviate flooding where they can, they are also there 24 hours a day. Worth far more than a bunch of box-tickers in offices.
Well done young man. Our lockkeeper at Osney also tried to revive a man on a mobility scooter recently who had fallen into flood water. When will the Environment Agency realise that these guys are vital to the safety of the public. Not only do they make decisions to operate weirs to help alleviate flooding where they can, they are also there 24 hours a day. Worth far more than a bunch of box-tickers in offices. Yellowlines
  • Score: 15

10:34am Tue 18 Feb 14

stayingafloat says...

Well done Richard. The lock keepers are worth their weight in gold.
Well done Richard. The lock keepers are worth their weight in gold. stayingafloat
  • Score: 12

1:52pm Tue 18 Feb 14

wayzgooze1 says...

Well done Richard.
If Mr Overy is correct in his statement it sounds like the EA are letting the lockkeepers deal with the floods at the moment and then when the emergency is over they will look at making them redundant. Must be doing wonders for their morale. That being the case it shows just how committed and loyal this group of men and women who look after the Thames for us are working all hours when required.
Once again well done Richard and also a thank you to the rest of the Lock keepers out there actually doing something us public can see other than "ticking boxes"
Well done Richard. If Mr Overy is correct in his statement it sounds like the EA are letting the lockkeepers deal with the floods at the moment and then when the emergency is over they will look at making them redundant. Must be doing wonders for their morale. That being the case it shows just how committed and loyal this group of men and women who look after the Thames for us are working all hours when required. Once again well done Richard and also a thank you to the rest of the Lock keepers out there actually doing something us public can see other than "ticking boxes" wayzgooze1
  • Score: 8

5:10pm Tue 18 Feb 14

A Scroat says...

wayzgooze1 wrote:
Well done Richard.
If Mr Overy is correct in his statement it sounds like the EA are letting the lockkeepers deal with the floods at the moment and then when the emergency is over they will look at making them redundant. Must be doing wonders for their morale. That being the case it shows just how committed and loyal this group of men and women who look after the Thames for us are working all hours when required.
Once again well done Richard and also a thank you to the rest of the Lock keepers out there actually doing something us public can see other than "ticking boxes"
Spot on. I bet Mr Overy is sat in an office wearing a life jacket and practising the Environment Agency famous, but hilarious, "lessons have been learned" routine. Well done to the Lockkeepers and keep it up. Tick those boxes.
[quote][p][bold]wayzgooze1[/bold] wrote: Well done Richard. If Mr Overy is correct in his statement it sounds like the EA are letting the lockkeepers deal with the floods at the moment and then when the emergency is over they will look at making them redundant. Must be doing wonders for their morale. That being the case it shows just how committed and loyal this group of men and women who look after the Thames for us are working all hours when required. Once again well done Richard and also a thank you to the rest of the Lock keepers out there actually doing something us public can see other than "ticking boxes"[/p][/quote]Spot on. I bet Mr Overy is sat in an office wearing a life jacket and practising the Environment Agency famous, but hilarious, "lessons have been learned" routine. Well done to the Lockkeepers and keep it up. Tick those boxes. A Scroat
  • Score: 5

6:44pm Tue 18 Feb 14

doublehop says...

When will these EA idiots realise that you need men on the ground living in lock houses and not the suits only turning up when the cameras are there.
When will these EA idiots realise that you need men on the ground living in lock houses and not the suits only turning up when the cameras are there. doublehop
  • Score: 4

9:21pm Tue 18 Feb 14

Ormond says...

I saw the lock keeper at Osney checking houses at 11 o'clock at night in January when it looked like the island would flood. I know most locals appreciate this and are happy that there is a lock keeper in the house at Osney. Well done to all of them.
I saw the lock keeper at Osney checking houses at 11 o'clock at night in January when it looked like the island would flood. I know most locals appreciate this and are happy that there is a lock keeper in the house at Osney. Well done to all of them. Ormond
  • Score: 3

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