The High Sheriff of Cornwall visits NCI Gwennap Head

The High Sheriff of Cornwall, Andrew Williams, chose the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) to be his main charity to support whilst in office. One of his wishes was to recognize individuals who have provided outstanding service within the county.

On 18th January 2023 he made a special visit to attend the General Meeting of NCI Gwennap Head so he could present the High Sheriff's award for Exceptional Service to the Community, to watchkeeper Adrian Symons. Adrian joined NCI in 1996 and was a founding member of NCI Gwennap Head. During his long career with NCI he has held many committee roles and, even today, still continues to fulfil watches each month at the age of 94 and can also regularly be seen fundraising at supermarket collections. Station Manager Ian Vinnicombe commented “Adrian’s an inspiration to us all”.

NCI Gwennap Head

The photograph shows the NCI Gwennap Head crew with Andrew Williams and Liaison Trustee Jonathan Rothwell


As part of Student Volunteering Week, NCI St Donat's Bay are celebrating the international lifesavers of the future. This pioneering scheme with UWC Atlantic is believed to be a world first, uniting students from around the world with local NCI volunteer watchkeepers to maintain a watch over the coast, looking out for people in danger. If anyone is seen to be in danger or distress, as part of their education, the students at the prestigious college in St Donat's Bay (west of Cardiff) are receiving training in a range of maritime skills such as watchkeeping, chartwork, VHF radio operations and much more from the experienced NCI watchkeepers. The cadets come from as far away as Taiwan, Pakistan and Peru, and work alongside the volunteers at NCI St Donat's Bay to provide ‘ Eyes Along the Coast’ every day.


Ian Whalley NCI Deputy Chair awarded MBE

NCI Chairman, Clive Pouncey, has made the following announcement: “It is with great pleasure I can inform you that our Deputy Chairman Ian Whalley has been honoured as a Member of the British Empire in the King's New Year's Honours list for services to public safety. Ian has been a Trustee for over 10 years and during that time he has been responsible for raising many thousands of pounds from corporate sponsors, opening several new stations along the east coast and continues to mount a weekly watch at NCI Skegness. These are just a glimpse of his achievements within NCI.” The citation on the Kings Honours list reads “Ian Granville Whalley. Deputy Chair, National Fundraising Officer and Volunteer Senior Watchkeeper, National Coastwatch Institution. For services to Public Safety and to Charity.”

HRH The Princess Royal visits NCI Felixstowe

28th March 2023, HRH The Princess Royal, as Royal Patron of the National Coastwatch Institution, visited the NCI Felixstowe station. Afterwards, she attended a reception at the Orwell Hotel, Felixstowe.   

HRH The Princess Royal was received at the station at Old Fort Road, Felixstowe by His Majesty’s Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Mr Steven Fletcher DL, who presented the NCI Chairman Mr Clive Pouncey and Station Manager of NCI Felixstowe, Mr Nick Barrett White.   

The station is located on top of the historic Martello Tower ‘P’, which was built from some 750,000 bricks during the Napoleonic wars. In 1996, the tower’s lookout became the home of the volunteer watchkeepers of NCI Felixstowe, having formerly occupied a site shared with Alby’s Beach Café. Their task is to maintain a daylight watch on the coast and at sea, 365 days a year. It is a wholly volunteer organisation with over 2,650 highly trained Watchkeepers working from 59 stations around England and Wales. They report to HM Coastguard and their prime task is the protection and preservation of life around our coasts. With the help of multiple cameras, the NCI crew now have a wide view of Felixstowe's beaches, inshore waters and the Harwich approaches, one of the busiest shipping areas in the UK with its three lane traffic separation channel for commercial traffic.   

HRH Our Royal Patron visits NCI Felixstowe

 The photograph shows Station Manager Nick Barrett White and Deputy Station Manager Colin Hewitt in the lookout with

HRH The Princess Royal

After a tour of the station where The Princess Royal met on-duty watchkeepers, The Princess Royal  attended a reception for NCI Watchkeepers and guests at the Orwell Hotel. She was received by His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston who presented NCI Trustee Ian Whalley, and civic guests including Councillor Jenny Ceresa, Chairman, East Suffolk Council, Mr Christopher Bally, Chief Executive, East Suffolk Council and Councillor Sharon Harkin, Mayor of Felixstowe.   

HRH Our Royal Patron visits NCI Felxistowe

HRH The Princess Royal meets Nick Barrett-White, Clive Pouncey, Dep. Chief Constable Robert Jones, & Dep. Lord Lieutenant Stephen Fletcher

Mr Clive Pouncey, NCI Chair said: “Her Royal Highness is a committed and enthusiastic supporter of National Coastwatch. As a Royal Patron she devotes much time to our cause and we are deeply grateful for her Patronage”.  

HRH The Princess Royal graciously unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening of the station and presented long service awards to:   

(Five years’ service:) Raoul Coppens-Browne, David Sharples, Chris Needs 

(10 years’ service:) Peter Finch, Linda Lawrence, NCI Head of Operations and a posthumous award for 10 years’ service to Mrs Inge Milsom for Julian Milsom.   

Among the organisations represented at the event were: HM Coastguard Felixstowe Coastguard Rescue Team; RNLI, RNLI Harwich; East Suffolk Council and Harwich Haven Authority.   

HRH The Princess Royal visits our National Coastwatch lookout at NCI St Donat's Bay

Royal Visit to NCI St Donat's Bay

On 3 April 2023, HRH The Princess Royal visited our National Coastwatch lookout at NCI St Donat's Bay. Select this link to find out how the day went HRH The Princess Royal visits NCI St Donat's Bay.

Whitstable National Coastwatch Institution 

Inaugural Coastal Water Safety Awareness Day at Whitstable Harbour 

On Saturday 16th September 2023, members of Whitstable National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) enjoyed glorious morning sunshine as they prepared for their first Coastal Water Safety Day at the town’s harbour.  Local people joined visitors from far and wide in the lively seaside town during the welcome, if unexpected, heatwave. 

Whitstable Coastal & Water Safety day

Watchkeepers were on hand to provide information about how to keep safe whilst enjoying Whitstable’s enviable coastline.  Over the course of the day walkers, runners, swimmers, paddlers, and sailors stopped by the stall for a chat and to browse the safety leaflets.  Parents and carers were particularly happy to receive NCI wristbands for their smaller children.  As always, the Treasure Map competition delighted adults and children alike.  NCI Whitstable extends thanks to the generosity of all who helped the charity to raise £102 over the course of an enjoyable and well received day. 

Display of leaflets

National Coastwatch supports 'Respect the Water' campaign

This summer National Coastwatch extended its activities to include spreading the Coastal & Water Safety message along our coastal areas. Click Here to find out more.

Stay Safe #3

NCI Newhaven is awarded the Kings Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS)

This is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.

The KAVS recognises outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created as the QAVS in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and, following his accession, His Majesty The King confirmed his desire to continue the Award.

National Coastwatch Institution is an asset of HM Coastguard and keeps a visual and listening watch for those in peril on our inshore waters and coastline. NCI Newhaven is on watch 365 days a year and currently has seventy trained volunteer watchkeepers sharing duties.

NCI Newhaven was established in 2004 at the lookout on Castle Hill, Newhaven so 2024 will be their 20th birthday. Although NCI Newhaven is the only lookout in East Sussex, NCI is a national organisation with 58 lookouts along the coast of England and Wales.

Representatives of NCI Newhaven will receive the KAVS crystal and certificate from Mr Andrew Blackman CStJ, Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex, in early Spring 2024. In addition, two volunteers from NCI Newhaven will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May and June 2024, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.

David Crozier, NCI CEO and Trustee for the SE, says: ‘NCI Newhaven volunteers are richly deserving of this award for their almost twenty-year contribution to public safety. I am delighted that the work of this tireless and dedicated group has been recognised by HM The King.’

NCI Whitstable  

Presentation of Certificates for Newly Qualified Watchkeepers  

Wednesday 29th November 2023 saw members of Whitstable National Coastwatch Institution gather in the Royal British Legion, Whitstable, for the presentation of certificates to several newly qualified watchkeepers.  Station Manager Bob Smith welcomed two guests of honour, Canterbury’s Lord Mayor, Jean Butcher, who had kindly agreed to present the certificates, and the city’s Lady Mayoress, Di Baldock. 

NCI Whitstable

The event was the first full gathering of watchkeepers following the untimely death of our colleague and friend Andy Southon.  NCI Whitstable’s Chaplain Fr. Jack Greenhalf, spoke movingly of Andy’s warmth, dedication and sense of humour. A minute’s silence was observed. 

It was then time for the presentation of certificates. Alan Wood, Keith Unitt, Detlef Hofmann, Martin Belgrove, David Fewkes received their well-earned certificates from the Lord Mayor and were formally welcomed into the National Coastwatch community. 

Once the applause and congratulations had subsided it was time for some well-earned refreshments and genial conversation.  As the event drew to a close, the Station Manager extended thanks go to our guests of honour and the staff of the Royal British Legion Whitstable for ensuring that this was such a memorable evening. 

HRH The Princess Royal visits NCI Canvey Island

There was a warm winter welcome at the National Coastwatch Canvey Island station yesterday when our Royal patron HRH The Princess Royal paid a visit. 

Her Royal Highness toured the station which has views across the busy Thames Estuary and towards Southend and the North Sea. She met some of our volunteer watchkeepers who, like our 2,600-plus volunteers at 60 stations, help keep people safe and save lives at sea by maintaining a daily visual and radio watch of the coast. They report any coastal safety-related incidents to HM Coastguard.  

NCI Cnavey Island