New coastwatch station set to open

Coastwatch

The National Coastwatch Institute is recruiting volunteers for a new station at Brancaster - Credit: NCI

A new coastwatch station is to open by a Norfolk beach next month.

The National Coastwatch Institution has announced plans to establish a permanent station at Brancaster in time for Easter.

It is now recruiting volunteers to staff the centre, to  keep watch on beaches and inshore waters, monitor radio channels, provide a listening watch in poor visibility and deal with emergencies.

The station, which will join five established sites in Norfolk, will be based near the sea wall in the grounds of the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club.

Acting station manager John Allen said: "“We are now looking for volunteers who can commit to carry out a minimum of one three-hour watch per week.

"No previous experience is necessary, just enthusiasm and a commitment to work as a team.

"We've got people from all walks of life - shop workers, professionals, builders. It's just the enthusiasm we need."

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Recent incidents involving Coastwatch include a vessel slipping its anchor off Cromer and children climbing dangerously on the town's cliffs.

At Wells, watchers have reported a vessel which had run aground, people cut off by the tide and a dog with a broken leg.

The National Coastwatch Institution was founded in 1994 following the deaths of two fishermen near a recently closed coastguard station at Bass Point, Cornwall. Following the tragedy, public spirited local people banded together and the NCI was formed.

Since that time the organisation has grown dramatically and it now has 56 stations around the coasts of England and Wales, manned by more than 2,500 volunteer watchkeepers.

The NCI says: "High technology and sophisticated systems such as radar and telecommunications have vastly improved safety at sea, but there is no substitute for a watchful pair of eyes.

"Accidents do happen and a computer or technology cannot spot a distress flare, an overturned boat, a yacht with problems, a water sports enthusiast in difficulty, or children or adults in trouble, or possible pollution incidents.

"That is why our lookouts and watchkeepers are an important service provider to all those who use our coastal waters, footpaths and coastline." 

The NCI is a registered charity and is an integral part of the civil maritime search and rescue organisations working alongside the RNLI and reporting to HM Coastguard.

To find out more about volunteering, e-mail john.allen@nci.org.uk or call 07955 621608.