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Volunteers needed to ensure our coastline is safe from crime and danger free

PUBLISHED: 06:23 27 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:18 27 April 2018

A small fleet of 16 boats, members of the Norfolk Yacht Agency Cruising Club based at Brundall, head down the east coast to London. The lead boat, Evita, leads the fleet out of Great Yarmouth harbour past the Gorleston Coastwatch Station and lighthouse and out to the North Sea. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A small fleet of 16 boats, members of the Norfolk Yacht Agency Cruising Club based at Brundall, head down the east coast to London. The lead boat, Evita, leads the fleet out of Great Yarmouth harbour past the Gorleston Coastwatch Station and lighthouse and out to the North Sea. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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More eyes are needed to defend our coast from smugglers and help save lives at sea.

A new Britsih Border Force vessel operating from Yarmouth. Picture: Nick ButcherA new Britsih Border Force vessel operating from Yarmouth. Picture: Nick Butcher

Coastwatch stations across the borough are undermanned, and with the summer season approaching, the need for volunteers is greater than ever.

The superintendent of Great Yarmouth police has joined the plea for extra volunteers to help protect our “beautiful coastline”.

Roger Wiltshire, superintendent of Great Yarmouth police, said: “Coastwatch volunteers play a vital role as protectors of our coastal communities.

“Living in a county with such beautiful coastline is a great privilege, but it does make us vulnerable to criminal activities such as smuggling, particularly in isolated areas.

“By lending a pair of eyes and liaising with police, Border Control and the coastguard, volunteers can help defend our communities, as well as help save lives at sea.

“In the police we understand the importance of our special constabulary in supporting our work, and equally, the role of Coastwatch volunteers in protecting our coast can not be underestimated.”

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, has also highlighted the importance of the voluntary organisation.

He said: “Our coastwatch teams work hard to keep people and our waters safe around the year and along our coastline.

“Whenever I have visited and met the teams across from Winterton and going south through our coastline, I have always been hugely impressed by their commitment and expertise, that are a huge benefit to us all.”

Retired sailor, Peter Bedwell, 80, has experienced a variety of incidents while volunteering at Winterton Coastwatch.

He said: “We’ve had people try and smuggle things in. We had drugs washed up on the beach in Hemsby.

“While there was the bad weather and the erosion a bomb was uncovered on the beach and we had the navy down to explode it. All in a day’s volunteering.”

Linda Lawrence, Caister Coastwatch station manager, said all are welcome to lend a spare pair of eyes.

She said: “People don’t need to have a marine background, you learn as you go, and I have loved every minute of it.”

Coastwatch volunteers on their experiences

Barbara Hay, Gorleston Coastwatch station manager, said: “We’re on very good terms with all the emergency services and we’re closely aligned with the coastguard and the Border Force. We log everything down, so if they’re looking for a suspicious vessel they can come and see if we saw it.

“It’s helping the community. We can make a difference to someone’s life.”

Linda Lawrence, Caister Coastwatch station manager, said: “We do longer watches during the summer months and there’s kids swimming, inflatables and plenty to look out for.

“It’s really nice looking out to the sea and it’s rewarding knowing we’re looking after people.”

Ray Davis, North Denes station manager, said: “It’s a good life for a retired person, it gives you an incentive to get stuck in and be sociable.

“People are always coming past and asking questions and a little bit of knowledge of Yarmouth goes a long, long way.”

To volunteer at Gorleston call 01493 440 384, for Caister call 01692 671 913, for Winterton call 01493 393 989 and for North Denes call 01493 332 192.

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