Lyme Regis: National Coastwatch Institution looking out for new home (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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Lyme Regis: National Coastwatch Institution looking out for new home
THE Lyme Bay National Coastwatch Institution is now an official part of the country’s search and rescue service – and the quest for a new West Dorset base is now a top priority.
NCI Lyme Bay has just been awarded “declared facility status” which makes the volunteer lookout an integral part of search and rescue resources on the coast.
The group will also be presented with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for outstanding work within local communities.
The service will move out of the current station at Burton Cliff in the autumn and a new base needs to be found.
A plan to site the station on the east pier at West Bay failed to get off the ground following objections on environmental and conservation grounds.
Station manager Clive Edwards said that to achieve the new status the station had undergone an all-day assessment.
“That included a number of exercises designed to prove that it can demonstrate its competency in carrying out the core tasks of spotting, plotting and reporting and thereby ensure that the highest standards of watchkeeping are maintained, “ he said.
“At present we have less than thirty fully-trained volunteer watchkeepers so we can only operate from Friday to Monday inclusive, but we have more volunteers undergoing training and when these are qualified we will be able to operate seven days a week.
“Our most important objective now though is to find a permanent location for our lookout.”
He added: “We are hoping to move, subject to planning permission, to a permanent location on the western esplanade at West Bay.”
From the lookout at Burton Bradstock the volunteers monitor weather and sea conditions to provide information for mariners, fishermen, walkers and other users of the sea and coast. They work closely with coastguard, RNLI, HM Customs and Excise, and all the emergency services.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is also awarded to the three other Dorset NCI Stations at Portland Bill, St Albans Head and Swanage, is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen's coronation and is the equivalent to the MBE for volunteer groups.