River keeper Jon Welch with predecessor Ken DaveyThe Ernest Cook Trust has welcomed new river keeper Jon Welch to its Fairford Estate in Gloucestershire.

Jon, aged 26, pictured left, takes over the job of managing a two and a half-mile stretch of the River Coln from Ken Davey, who has retired at 66.

Ken, who worked for the Trust for five decades, joined his young successor to walk the river and help him get to know his new patch.

Previously Jon worked for a trout fishery in Arundel, West Sussex, after graduating from Sparsholt College near Winchester with a degree in Aquaculture and Fishery Management.

He says he has landed his dream job. “I’ve wanted to be a river keeper for a long time,” he said.

“It’s an exciting job because there’s huge long-term potential with this stretch of the River Coln, to increase the trout population and to make much more use of the river as an educational resource.

New river keeper Jon Welch and predecessor Ken Davey“It’s also great to be working for an organisation that does all the management and conservation work you’d expect of a landowning trust, and then uses it to teach young people about the countryside.”

The Ernest Cook Trust, based in Fairford, is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, and owns and manages 22,000 acres of country estates across five English counties.

ECT actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through free-of-charge education programmes on its estates, and by giving grants.

Last year nearly 32,000 children visited the Ernest Cook Trust’s estates, and each year its Trustees distribute £1.8m to a range of  education initiatives throughout the UK.