Three Fenland Lock Keepers were finalists in the British Marine Inland Boating Lock Keeper of the year award 2020. The Award, also known as the Esme Dowling Award in memory of Esme Dowling, a Lock Keeper at Napton Locks on the Oxford Canal from 1957-1988, is presented annually by hotel boat and hire boat operators in British Marine membership to navigation authority staff or volunteers who have gone the extra mile in delivering excellent customer service on the UK’s inland waterways network. The award is open not only to Lock Keepers, but to all waterways staff who have offered outstanding assistance to waterways users.

Runner up certificates were presented to Ben Di-Giulio and Dan Pollard of the Denver Lock and Complex (EA Anglia) and Paul Grodkiewicz Salter’s Lode (Middle Level Commissioners).

The certificates and a letter of thanks from British Marine Inland Boating Chair Nigel Hamilton were presented by Paula Syred Vice Chair of British Marine Inland Boating and Managing Director of Fox Narrowboats at Denver Lock on Thursday 10th June 2021.

Paula thanked the recipients for their hard work and dedication in assisting hire boat customers through the lock and for their knowledge of the local area that they pass on to holiday customers.  All three work as a close team across two navigation authorities which shows an additional amount of cooperation.

It is the first time in the long history of the award that anyone from the Anglia Region has reached the finals of the award.

Their nomination for the award read “These guys are amazing controlling the tidal crossing, acting as a public information service and assisting hire boat customers.  Over the past few years they have calmed the nervous, assisted with taxis when people have had to respond to family emergencies and their knowledge of the local waterways is second to none.


Also in attendance for the presentation were Jon Fenn, Operations Engineer at the Middle Level Commissioners and Rupert Wilson from the Environment Agency.