Posted 3rd May 2016
In the latest part of the Canal & River Trust's Humans of the Waterways, we look at Mike, of Hanbury Locks, Droitwich Canal who talks us through his life
"I was driving across Europe, Malaysia, the Far East and travelling 35,000 miles a year. Then when I got to the age of 60 I started thinking about the airports as 'just another airport' and I really didn't want it anymore. But I didn't want to stop working and moving.
I was an agronomist giving information to farmers about how to get the best yield from their crops. I retired nearly two years ago, but because I’ve always been interested in canals I went for this job as a volunteer for the Canal & River Trust. I think retirement should just be the continuation of your job, except you just don't get paid for it. If I stopped work I would grind to a halt, so what I needed was something like this to chivvy me into retirement. I'm a volunteer ranger and do three days a week. You're outside in the fresh air, communicating with people, using your head and yet not under pressure from work. I help run the local CRT Worcestershire volunteers Facebook page too. We all want to be here, and that's why all the volunteers get on well with each other I think. We've got a volunteer coordinator, but there's no hierarchy - we've got all sorts of people from those who used to work in manual jobs to a retired Major General in the army.
My dog Jess is a volunteer too. She's already famous for coming with me when we helped out with the big clean on the canals. A reporter from the local newspaper who covered the story absolutely fell in love with Jess, and I think she might have nicked her if given half a chance!
The rain has made the water high so the River Severn is closed for boats at the moment and it's pretty quiet today. But we've still been really busy all morning and 12 boats have already passed through this lock. Usually there aren’t accidents or high drama on the canals, everyone is just having a peaceful time, but I'm a bit worried about a boat that headed off from here this morning. It was supposed to only be going as far as the next lock and turning round there to come back. It's still nowhere to be seen and it's been three hours now, so where they’ve got to I just don't know!
As a volunteer it's not really dramatic rescues I'm look for, it's just the job of helping people and keeping an eye on what needs to be done along the canal. I suppose my wife thinks it gets rid of me for few hours every week! For me, being a volunteer ranger has kept me working after retirement - and I don't miss the M25!"
Image and text courtesy of Canal & River Trust