29 December 2023 – Another year has flown by and before 2024 takes off, we’ve taken a look back at some of the highlights of 2023.

Stephen Hand became National Coastwatch’s new chair earlier this year and he says that goodwill and support has helped to make 2023 one of our charity’s best-ever years as an integral part of the UK’s world class maritime safety community.
Generous support
“National Coastwatch is a charity staffed and managed by volunteers whose mission is to keep people safe and help to save lives around the UK coastline. If you, a friend or family member uses coastal waters or the shoreline  – maybe paddle boarding, fishing, boating or walking on our beautiful but sometimes treacherous coastline – we are watching and keeping you safe.
“Helping to keep people safe and save lives at sea has to be one of the best and most rewarding jobs but we cannot do what we do without a huge amount of support.
“The generosity of our supporters on a daily basis this year has been exceptional. Every little bit really does help contribute to saving lives. It can range from giving a few hours as a fundraiser at an open day to running a marathon to raise funds as well as generous grants from our institutional supporters. It all adds up and we’d like to thank every individual, organisation and business for helping us,” said Stephen.
2023 highlights (in no particular order)
Three cheers for our volunteers. Above all we depend on our wonderful, dedicated and highly trained volunteers. Over the last year, we’ve seen more generous-spirited people join us and our numbers now stand at a record 2,745. But as our stations continue to grow, we need even more people to join our crew.

Station developments
Over nearly 30 years, our station numbers have grown to 60 and there are plans for more in strategic coastal locations.  We aim to have a lookout or a remote camera operated from a staffed lookout wherever the data shows there is a need for us to be on hand to help keep people safe. We have funding for seven new locations thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and the generosity of our supporters. With more funding, we can plan more stations and help save more lives.

Stay Safe Along the Coast
Our promotion of coastal safety took a step up this year with the launch of our Stay Safe Along the Coast initiative, with funding generously supplied by Trinity House and help from the RNLI and HM Coastguard. Volunteers at 30 selected stations were given special training to provide safety information to members of the public. Our first year has proved a great success, and we are planning an expansion into more areas for 2024.   Click here for more.

A world first in Wales
Our pioneering scheme in Wales is thought to be a world first. It unites students from around the world and local community volunteers. The collaborative scheme has seen the establishment of a new station, NCI St Donat’s Bay, at the prestigious UWC Atlantic College at St Donat’s, Wales.  It is the only National Coastwatch station at which students work with local volunteers.

Record numbers of incidents
By mid-December, over 830 incidents had been logged, beating the previous (2022) record of 826.  We’ve yet to have the total of watchkeeper hours for 2023 but it’s likely to beat the 274,543 hours in 2022 and 215,281 clocked up in 2021.

Five Royal visits
We are honoured to have the patronage of HRH The Princess Royal. She takes a very active interest in our work and this year she has visited no fewer than five of our stations, giving our volunteers and the local communities a huge boost. Station visits have included: St Donat’s Bay, Felixstowe, Folkestone, Gosport and Canvey Island. See the ITV news clip of her visit to NCI Folkestone.

More ways to fundraise
More initiatives have been added to our portfolio this year, making fundraising and donating even easier.  We now have a JustGiving presence so people can easily make one-off or regular donations as well as fundraise if they are taking on a challenge. Two early fundraisers on the platform were Pippa Unwin who is currently half way through walking the 630 miles of the challenging South West Coast Path and Sophie Skipper who ran the gruelling Eden Project marathon. You can support us here.
Many of our stations have also signed up to easyfundraising. Over 8,000 online retailers take part in a scheme that makes a donation to one of our stations (or a cause of your choice) every time you make a purchase.  You don’t pay any extra either as the brand pays a commission that’s automatically donated to us or your nominated charity.

Awards and accolades
We are fortunate and grateful to have so many dedicated volunteers and this year we have celebrated major milestones as three people received their 25 years’ service awards and five received awards for 20 years!  Many of our stations hold the honoured Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and NCI Newhaven became the first National Coastwatch station to receive the King’s Award for Voluntary Service. It is the highest award given to local volunteer groups and is the equivalent of an MBE. Find out more and how to nominate HERE.

Stepping up our Promotion
In the last year, we have worked hard to continue to raise our profile in local communities, at major events like the Southampton International Boat Show and Seawork, as well as increasing our presence on social media.  Among the initiatives was a series of Facebook prize competitions to promote coastal safety, attracting thousands of people to see what we do and take part to win one of £700 worth of prizes kindly donated by our sponsors.

And there’s more to come!
We’re ready for 2024 and we’d like to thank all our volunteers and supporters and wish you all a safe and happy New Year.