29 AUGUST 2023 Coastal safety in the Margate and Ramsgate area could be set for a boost as the National Coastwatch Institution is planning a new permanent watchkeeping station.
It is a charity and the only organisation which operates a growing number of sea-facing stations (currently 59) around the UK from which highly trained volunteers keep a daily lookout for people’s safety along the coast.
The new station will supplement existing services provided by HM Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Local stations are self-funded and run by volunteer watchkeepers, fundraisers and helpers.
As well as a new station location, people interested in receiving training to qualify as volunteer watchkeepers and new supporters are now being asked to register their interest. They can do this on the NCI website Information for Potential Watchkeepers | National Coastwatch Institution or in person by visiting the NCI’s display unit on the Ramsgate seafront promenade from now until 10 September. Station Manager, Paul Waterman, said there are exciting opportunities to become involved in lifesaving work and play an important role in the community.
“We’re really excited at the prospect of opening a new station where there’s a clear need for extra coastal safety. And we’re really grateful for the support of Thanet District Council for allowing us to place our unit on the seafront. We’re now looking for people to come on board with us who can spare just a few hours each month doing vital work that really does help save lives. We're a very friendly bunch and the next few weeks in Ramsgate are a great time for anyone interested to come along and find out more,” he said.
Cllr Steve Albon, Cabinet Member for Cleansing and Coastal Services at Thanet District Council, said: “Keeping our residents and visitors safe is extremely important to Thanet District Council, and we welcome NCI to Ramsgate seafront. We work in close partnership with a number of organisations, who each play a key role in ensuring the safety of beach users around our coast, and we are grateful to all of them. I would encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering to get in touch with NCI."
NCI develops new stations where it sees evidence of the need from HM Coastguard and RNLI analysis of incidents.
“We closed our station at Herne Bay earlier this year because the leased building became unsafe. A need for a station in the Ramsgate or Margate area has now been identified and we hope it will be up and running by the end of the year,” added Paul.
National Coastwatch stations are ‘Eyes Along The Coast’, with watchkeepers using their eyes as well as optical instruments, ship identification software, and CCTV cameras to monitor beaches, coastal paths, sand bars, tide, and weather as well as out to sea.
(Picture courtesy of David Taylor)