29 November 2023 HRH The Princess Royal, as Royal Patron of the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) visited the NCI Canvey Island station sited at the Island Yacht Club, looking out across the busy Thames Estuary, Southend and towards the North Sea.

The Princess Royal was received at the station by His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst. Community leaders were presented and the NCI Chairman Stephen Hand who presented Canvey Island Station Manager, Grahame Harris and Deputy Station Manager, Graham Humphrey.

Mr Harris escorted Her Royal Highness into the station’s watch room for a briefing about the work of the highly trained volunteer watchkeepers and their part in helping to save lives at the coast. Duty watchkeepers Mr Alan Massey, Mr Bill Blissett and Mr Christopher Gardner were presented.

All National Coastwatch volunteer watchkeepers help to keep people safe and save lives at sea by maintaining a daily visual and radio watch over the coast. They report any safety-related incidents to HM Coastguard. 

Her Royal Highness was also briefed on the history of the station which was first established in 1999 at its former location at Holehaven Creek. It had the distinction of being the only National Coastwatch station to sit on reclaimed land, in a hut at the end of a jetty. It moved to its current home in 2021 and reports to HM Coastguard at Dover.
National Coastwatch is a wholly volunteer organisation, with over 2,650 highly trained watchkeepers working from 60 stations around England and Wales. NCI’s prime objective is the protection and preservation of life around our coasts. 

After visiting the station, The Princess Royal was escorted to the Island Yacht Club for a formal welcome to NCI Canvey Island attended by NCI current and former watchkeepers, NCI trustees and guests. Stephen Hand, NCI chair, invited Her Royal Highness to present four long service awards to Grahame Harris (5 years) and Anthony O’Brien, Linda Metcalfe and Christina Skipper (10 years each).
Mr Hand said: “The patronage of HRH The Princess Royal is a source of great pride to us and her interest and station visits give our volunteers, our communities and supporters a huge boost. It’s a real privilege that this is her fifth visit to one of our stations this year and we are very honoured that she devotes so much interest and significant time to our cause.”

(Picture courtesy of Richard Windell)

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Currently almost 60 National Coastwatch stations are operational and manned by over 2600 volunteer watchkeepers around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Filey in North Yorkshire. 

National Coastwatch 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 National Coastwatch 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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