Feature: How vital volunteer organisation in Mablethorpe keeps their eyes along the coast

Manning the Mablethorpe NCI station - station manager Laurie King (right) and watchkeepers Paul Russell (left) and Paul Mountford (centre).
Manning the Mablethorpe NCI station - station manager Laurie King (right) and watchkeepers Paul Russell (left) and Paul Mountford (centre).
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For example, did you know everyone who works at the 52 Coastwatch stations around the country’s coastline are made up of volunteers but, in terms of importance and safety, they are considered to be on par with the Coastguard.

Coastwatch teams give up their time to keep an eye on our coastline. They may be volunteers but each and every individual is professionally trained and knows exactly what to do - if the alarm needs to be raised.

Accidents can and do happen on our coasts. Danger can lurk just a few feet from sandy beaches.

Anyone who visits the Mablethorpe branch of the NCI will be reassured to know there is someone on watch 365 days a year, looking for any danger and keeping people safe.

While we live in an age where technology is increasingly important, eye sight is a vital component for Coastwatch teams.

Other aids like marine radar, telescopes, up-to-date charts and computer logging are always used as secondary measures.

Station manager for Mablethorpe NCI, Laurie King, explains: “Our coastwatch journey began in Mablethorpe in 2009 and what we do is spot, plot and report.

“Computers can fail and technology cannot see an overturned yacht with problems, a water sports enthusiast in difficulty, children or adults in trouble or a possible pollution incident. We can.

“Our usual day is never repeated.

“We have seen things from mysterious underwater containers to streakers.

“On a good day, our visibility is 12-miles out to sea and three-miles on a dreary day.

“NCI provide a vital link with the emergency services and we can provide an emergency contact point on land for both sea and shore users.”

Since 2009, the Mablethorpe NCI has initiated reports of 74 incidents and can always be called on by the Coastguard or RNLI for assistance, even outside of normal operational hours.

The NCI is a charity and relies on public donations to enable it to continue.

It can cost £4,000 or more, just to keep individual stations going.

The Mablethorpe and Skegness bases are the only two NCI stations currently operational in Lincolnshire.

To highlight how well they do their jobs, both teams were presented with the Queens Award for Voluntary Services in 2013.

Mr King added: “We always welcome visitors to come along to our station, situated at the Seaview car park (in Mablethorpe), to see what we do. Anyone who wishes to donate or anyone who would like to raise money for us is always welcome.

“We’re happy to talk to anyone who would like to get involved with us and become a volunteer - but having good eyesight is vital.

“We can’t thank people enough for the support they have given us over the years.”

The station is open 10am-4pm during the winter months and 9.30am-5.30pm in the summer.

For more information, why not visit the Coastwatch Facebook page - just search for National Coastwatch Institution - Mablethorpe.