30th June 2019. The volunteer watchkeepers at the National Coastwatch Institution station at Holehaven spotted a group of children in trouble off the Essex coast.

The team at NCI Holehaven contacted the Coastguard after the boys had been seen hanging onto anchored boats as they rested from a swim on Sunday. The National Coastwatch Institution volunteers then contacted the RNLI, who were conducting an exercise in the River Thames at Gravesend when they received the reports that children were swimming in the water.

The RNLI crew arrived within minutes to find that six children, believed to be all boys, had swam across a mud bank from Holehaven Creek in Canvey Island. The tide was coming in which was making their trip harder and the only way to safely return was to swim against the tide.

A spokesperson for the RNLI team said "While on exercise in Sea reach, the crew heard reports over the radio of children that had swam across Holehaven Creek, in Canvey Island, and NCI Holehaven  thought they could be in trouble. A few minutes later the lifeboat arrived, and the crew could see that six children had swam across to the mud bank. The only way back to safety, was to swim back across the tide. The children were transferred to the lifeboat and taken back to Holehaven causeway where they were met by Canvey Coastguard and Essex police who had a chat with the children to highlight the dangers of swimming in the Thames”

Photograph courtesy of Gravesend RNLI.

back to news


Currently 56 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2500 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles from Rossall  Point 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.


General enquiries
0300 111 1202

Media enquiries
0845 460 1202

[email protected]

17 Dean Street, Liskeard,
Cornwall, PL14 4AB