6th June 2017. The volunteers who keep a close watch on everything out to sea off Torbay have had a personal 'thank you' from the Queen. The team at the NCI Torbay Station have been awarded a Queens Award for Service to the Community, the highest award given to a group of volunteers and the equivalent of a British Empire Medal.
Station manager Martin Crapper said the team were: “Over the moon with the award. It's incredible to get such recognition for our work from the Queen herself. It makes us feel we are doing a good job."
The team has been involved in several incidents, most recently the collision of two heritage vessels during the recent heritage regatta. More often they provide a critical lifeline for stand-up paddle boarders who get into rough weather or are too far offshore, or jet skiers when they catch fire, as well as pinpointing vessels in difficulty.
There are 51 volunteers aged between early 40 and 80 from all walks of life including RAF personnel, clerical staff, doctors and solicitors, who man the station between 10am and 9pm during the summer months, with shorter hours the rest of the year. Each member does at least two 4 hour shifts a month and every day there are two people on watch at the station at Daddyhole Plain.
Watchkeeping duties are mainly routine but the watchkeepers are trained to act in an emergency, report to the Marine and Coastguard Agency and, if required, co-ordinate with the search and rescue services. Other activities such as canoeing and diving are also closely observed, as are bathers, walkers and climbers who use the shoreline and the team work closely with the RNLI, other search and rescue organisations and the UK Border Force. Visitors are always welcome to visit the lookout, although if there is an incident in progress, the Duty watchkeeper may ask them to call back later.
The photograph (courtesy of Devonlive,com) shows NCI Torbay Station Manager Martin Crapper with his wife Jenny.