7th May 2020. Even though the National Coastwatch Institution station at Southend is currently closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they are still saving lives along the coast.

Chris H, a watchkeeper under training at NCI Southend, spotted something while out on a walk. Here is his story about that encounter:

“Whilst on my socially distanced walk along Thorpe Bay Beach today, a member of the public in front on me decided to walk out to sea fully clothed. I shouted to him to stop but he waved me off. I called 999 asking for the Police and Coastguard.  Fortunately, it was a falling tide and the sticky sand made slow going. The RNLI were called out and the hovercraft got to him about half a mile out. By that time he was up to his arm pits and they had to fight to get him on board. He was brought to the beach in front of me, where the Police, Ambulance, Coastguard and Fire Brigade (who happened to be passing) were all waiting. The whole incident took about half an hour. I was talking to the police for most of this time. After he had been put in the ambulance I spoke to a policeman who informed me he was a homeless man and they were trying to get him a hospital bed for the night. I told him I had seen him sleeping on the beach the previous day and being talked to by two police officers. His circumstances are very relevant as it highlights the seriousness of being homeless and should not be swept under the carpet or ignored”. 

Rodney Hyne-Jones, Acting Station Manager at NCI Southend added “The fact that we are not operational right now does not mean that we switch off and, in this case, a life may well have been saved by the swift action of an off-duty trainee watchkeeper”.

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Currently 56 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2600 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Hornsea in the East Riding of Yorkshire. 

NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies offering a variety of skills and experience, and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met.








The words National Coastwatch Institution and Eyes Along the Coast and the NCI logos are Registered Trademarks of NCI.


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