20th July 2020. After an uneventful watch at NCI Porthcawl in South Wales, volunteer watchkeeper Jeff Saunders was closing down the evening watch when he heard on the radio that HM Coastguard at Milford Haven were requesting assistance for an incident.

At 20:59 hrs, with only one minute to go before the end of his watch, Jeff heard Milford Haven requesting support for the local Coastguard Rescue Team at the Pier Head. They had been tasked to search for a possibly suicidal male and both Porthcawl Lifeboats had been launched to support them and the Police in their search.

Jeff quickly scanned the area and then contacted HM Coastguard offering his assistance. Details were given on what was to be a very challenging situation and he immediately started to carry out a visual search using the stations CCTV camera and binoculars. A number of potential targets were spotted by Jeff before he finally located the casualty. Jeff contacted the Milford Haven and a visual link was established to the Coast Guard Operations Centre using the NCI stations secure website link.

By 23:00hrs, the Police had approached the casualty and, with the light totally gone, Jeff was stood down by HM Coastguard after his extended watch.

NCI Trustee and Board Secretary Mike Byrne said in a letter to Jeff  “This was a shining example of not only the increasing regard and dependence that our SAR partners increasingly put on us but of the personal diligence and dedication of our watch-keepers in going the extra mile that often goes un-noticed and I just wanted to personally recognise and thank you for your commitment”.

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Currently 56 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2600 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Hornsea in the East Riding of Yorkshire. 

NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies offering a variety of skills and experience, and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met.








The words National Coastwatch Institution and Eyes Along the Coast and the NCI logos are Registered Trademarks of NCI.


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