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Bristol Lock keeper wins prestigious Lock Keeper of the Year Award

The hotel boat membership of British Marine Inland Boating have once again voted for their Lock Keeper of the Year Award, and this year's winner is John Rosenthal, Netham Lock, Bristol.

This prestigious award, 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 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.

Nick Mead, chair of the hotel boats group within British Marine Inland Boating said: “As professional boaters we like to recognise the professionalism of navigation authority staff, especially when they give exceptional service to boaters. Emphasising that what makes canals unique is the living heritage of boating and navigation; which otherwise distinguishes them from a giant linear park.” 

Hotel boat operators are some of the most widely travelled boaters on the system, travelling up to 1500 miles each summer season and between them they travel practically the entire waterway system, making this a truly national award. Nominations can be received for a large number of different waterways and navigation authorities. The 2016 recipients of the Esme Dowling Shield were two members of the Environment Agency River Thames lock keeping team based at Abingdon Lock - Resident Lock and Weir keeper Richard Hawkins and Volunteer Assistant Lock Keeper Frank Jordan.

The award is open not only to lock keepers, but to all waterways staff who are judged by hotel boat operators, that are members of British Marine, to have given outstanding assistance to waterways users. Every nominee for this award should feel justly proud of this recognition. 

The full list of 2017 nominees is detailed below:

Martin Gillate, Kennet & Avon East Lead 
Colin & Thelma Edwards, Kennet & Avon volunteer lock assistants
Annie Glynn, Brentford Lock keeper
Keith Burnage, Sonning Lock keeper 
Annie Glynn, Thames Lock 
Paul Watson, Kings Lock, Oxford
Eddy King, Camden Lock London, assistance volunteer when footpath closed
Peter Baxter, Leeds volunteer lock keeper 
Paul Reynolds, Liverpool keeper
Miles Foster, Bank Newton keeper