The Race is on..... keep updated with our progress

Update 12th February 2010
Some good news to start - Mr & Mrs Grainger, our new landlords, have generously agreed to extend our lease for another year so that we now have until October 2011 to establish ourselves in new premises. We cannot afford to be complacent but at least this gives us more time to research and apply for grant aid.
We have started the first steps of broadcasting our situation as wide as possible so that more and more people are aware of our goal. As well as circulating this blog around the web, emails have been sent to all the Canterbury City Councillors highlighting the blog and hopefully by the next update we will have received some reaction - hopefully positive with some constructive help.
This week has seen us featured on the front page of the Herne Bay Times as well as receiving good coverage in the Herne Bay Gazette; the latter came about after one Canterbury City Councillor, to whom we are thankful, contacted a local reporter after receiving our email.  

2010 Review
The main drive for 2010 has been the search for alternative premises for the watch station which has proven to be a very difficult task. We had identified five different possibilities but were keen to proceed with the construction of a modular building on top of the Southern Water pumping station on the Eastern Esplanade from where we would have had good views of the inshore waters, promenade, beach  and cliffs. We found  a  company who drew up outline plans which were approved by Southern Water in principle but before going to the expense of drawing up and submitting full plans we discussed our intentions with Canterbury  City Council Planning Office and were a little disheartened to learn that we would probably not get planning permission as the intended building was too big and it was also very likely that the local residents would raise objection. Not wishing to compromise by reducing the specification of the building ,or indeed upsetting the local residents who we look to for support, we have shelved this idea for the moment and are proceeding with one of the alternative possibilities that will serve us just as well. I shall update progress in this respect a little later on.
Fund raising is an ongoing feature of our life as we need to raise £3,000 per year to cover our running costs  and we receive no local or government funding. However this has never been a problem and 2010 has seen us manning a number of collections at the superstores in Herne Bay, Westwood Cross and Broadstairs. We have also had a very successful quiz night and bric-a-brac sale and together with the funds raised from the innovation of the "Friends of Herne Bay Watch Station"  the easyfundraising site and the sale of our own Christmas card we have covered our running costs and managed to put a substantial sum into our building fund. Until we have established concrete plans for our new premises we are not able to make any application for grant aid but we have not let the grass grow under our feet and we have been making preparation for that day. A great success in that direction is that we have linked in with " Action with Communities in Rural Kent" who support our cause and we have been afforded a "Funding Buddy Mentor" who will help us identify appropriate sources of funding  and guide us through the bid-writing process. Our funding buddy is Kerry Donati, a live wire who has already given us a number of fresh ideas but also given us a lot of homework to do so that we are ready to make applications  as soon as we are able without delay.
This year has also seen the birth of our quarterly newsletter "Through the Binoculars" ably edited by Roger Atkins. The first issue, put to press in the Spring, was a modest  four pages but such has been the interest and flowing contributions by our members that the latest issue has grown to a wapping eight pages. The newsletter not only covers incidents and stories about Coastwatch activities but contains articles of local history and a bit of humour. It is certainly a good read and is issued free to members of the "Friends of Herne Bay Watch Station" but copies can be purchased for the small sum of £1 from the Coastwatch station any week-end.
November was a great month for the Station as we underwent a full assessment of our capabilities and expertise by our governing body and H M Coastguard which we passed with flying colours. We now hold the coveted Declared Facility Status (DFS) which means that we are now an accredited part of the Search & Rescue Organisation.
This year has seen a lot of new faces as more volunteer watch keepers have come on board although sadly we have lost a few of the old ones but our numbers are growing steadily. Wilf Heckley  has decided to step down from his role of Station Manager after a successful four year term in office but will carry on as Deputy Manager. Simon Ford takes over as Manager and will lead us into 2011 which promises to be decisive year in our history.

July 2011
We are now halfway through the year and continue to build our funding mainly through collections at supermarkets, our shopping site, new "friends" and to a lesser degree through our presence on the web althoug I do have some fresh ideas of how to increase this latter source of income.
We are poised ready to put forward our grant applications with the aid of our "Funding Buddy" but are still waiting to finalise our exact requirements with regard to our premises which, for me, is proving to be a period of extreme frustration.  
We continue to prove how essential is our presence here at Herne Bay by being involved in a number of incidents so far this year working with the Coastguard and Lifeboat services as a recognised part of the Search & Rescue organisation.
We have regular training sessions to ensure that all our watchkeepers are  fully prepared for any emergency and with the help of the local Sea Cadets and lifeboat have played our part in rescue exercises at sea as part of that training.
As our membership of volunteers increase we are also developing our social side and recently a group  of them enjoyed a day out on the "Greta", an old Thames barge, sailing out to the windfarm and the war-time forts in the estuary.