National award for volunteer who has spent more than 6,000 hours on Wigan canal

A dedicated volunteer on Wigan’s canals has been recognised after clocking up more than 6,000 hours of work.

Lock keeper Peter Baxter has been honoured for his commitment to the waterways, in particular the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, where he is stationed at Top Lock.

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He will be a familiar face to many people using the canal, whether they are travelling by boat or enjoying a walk along the towpath.

Peter Baxter claiming his award

He was given a national award by the leisure marine trade association British Marine Inland Boating, after being selected ahead of hundreds of other volunteers nationwide who support boaters and other visitors to canals and rivers.

Peter, who lives in Wigan, said: “I’m delighted to receive this national award for something I love doing and on my local canal.

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"It’s a really interesting role, where no two days are the same. I’ve learned so much and love being outdoors, it’s great for my well-being.”

Starting as a volunteer for the Canal and River Trust in 2015, Peter has accumulated more than 6,000 hours of voluntary work.

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Peter Baxter

Duties for lock keepers include maintenance of the area and to be the "face of the canals”, as they are often known.

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The Canal and River Trust cares for 2,000 miles of waterways and they are more popular than ever, with more boats now being used than at the height of the Industrial Revolution.

With the popularity of “staycations” on the rise, more people are taking to waterways, so it is vital that volunteers like Peter ensure their safe operation.

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Daniel Greenhalgh, North West regional director for the Canal and River Trust, said: “Lock keepers have been a presence on Britain’s canals for hundreds of years, although the role has changed over time.

“We are hugely proud of Peter and the other volunteers who look after the Wigan lock flight on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.”

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The winner was chosen in a vote by members of the British Marine Inland Boating.

Nigel Hamilton, chairman of British Marine Inland Boating, said: “We are delighted to present this prestigious award acknowledging the hard work of the lock keepers across the UK."