Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Herne Bay Coastwatch Station

This is me. I am a volunteer watchkeeper for National Coastwatch helping to ensure the safety of those at sea and along the shore and cliffs between Herne Bay and Reculver on the north Kentish coast ( for you Overseas visitors to this blog that's the South East corner of England)

and this

magnificent, majestic building is our Watch Station situated on the Esplanade at Herne Bay with commanding views over the North Sea and Thames estuary. It looks to be purpose built for our needs but in fact, perhaps less romantically, it started life as a Victorian bathing station and public toilets.

For the full story of how and why the National Coastwatch Institution(NCI) was formed please visit the official site at Briefly, the NCI (a National charity) was formed in 1994 following a disaster at sea after a local coastguard station was closed due to Government cutbacks. The local people decided to open and restore a visual watch and the first NCI lookout was born. There are now 40 lookouts situated around the English and Welsh coasts with the Herne Bay watch station opening in 1997 and moving to the current premises in 1999.

There is a real need for more NCI watch stations to be opened in the future as even with advancing technology the Maritime Coastguard Agency cannot spot the child on a lilo or dinghy being swept out to sea on the tide or a swimmer in trouble; they cannot watch over small fishing boats, jet bikes, yachts and other pleasure craft without radar reflectors; they cannot see the paragliders who launch from the cliffs or notice problems encountered by the public at large. The NCI watch stations also monitor the radio frequencies for mayday or distress calls that are not always picked up by the coastguard or other vessels.


Each watch station is autonomous having to find its own funding for everyday running costs and build its own membership of volunteers. At Herne Bay we have 24 volunteer watchkeepers (all unpaid and fully trained) and need to raise about £3,000 per year to cover all outgoings. This is not a problem and is easily achieved with charity collections at the local stores, quiz nights, bric-a-brac stalls and other fund raising initiatives. However we are now ourselves a victim of Government cutbacks and local government bureaucracy. Canterbury City Council, under direction of central government, decided to sell the lease of the watch station, without advising us, and our new landlords want to develop the building for their own use so that we will have to vacate in October 2010 (now 2011 - see updates) when our lease expires.
It has not been easy to find alternative premises with good views of the sea ,cliffs, promenade and beach and the only possibility we have is to build a new watch station or face closure.
We have found a suitable site and are currently in discussion with builders and have obtained initial budget costings.

The bottom line is that we need to raise £60,000 in the very short term which makes it difficult to obtain some of the grant funding available although we are currently exploring this avenue.

This is not a begging bowl - I am not looking for cash donations, although if there are any "angels" out there I should be delighted to hear from you. I am mainly looking for help from people who have experience in raising funds who can give me ideas or even help physically with funding applications as time is of the essence if we are to save this essential potential life saving facility from closure.

There is one way that you can help if you live in the UK. If you shop online whether it is buying goods, booking holidays, selling on e-bay, going to the theatre, getting insurance, booking Eurostar, booking hotels etc.etc. If you do it through our affiliate site with over 2000 popular retailers we will receive FREE donations of between 1% and 15% of your purchases with no extra cost to yourself. You can even save money as many retailers give exclusive discounts and savings when you shop online through our site and you will also be entered into a quarterly free prize draw.
If you shop online anyway why not give it a try. You shop as normal and it doesn't cost a penny extra but it could be a lifeline to us.
Please register at and bookmark the site so that you use it each time you buy.

My contact for all fund raising ideas and help is:

Don't forget to check out the other pages (top right) for updates and other information

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