A charitable lifesaving organisation known as ‘the coast’s best kept secret’ hopes its profile will grow after receiving a royal award in honour of its vital work.
Lincolnshire Coastwatch, which has stations in Skegness and Mablethorpe, was presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service at a ceremony last week.
Skegness deputy station manager and charity trustee Ian Whalley says the award - equivalent to an MBE - has been a welcome boost for the 100 or so local volunteers.
“We were absolutely delighted,” he said. “We’ve been described as ‘the coast’s best kept secret’ and we’re desperately trying not to be so much of a secret because we want to open more stations in Lincolnshire, and to do that we need more exposure, a better profile and more funding.”
“As a result of the award and the recognition it brings, we’ve been elevated to a position where we are now able to reach out to all the community leaders.”
Around 150 volunteers and dignitaries attended the awards ceremony at the Bacchus Hotel in Sutton on Sea, including the Mayor of Skegness Coun Jim Carpenter, the leader of East Lindsey District Council Coun Doreen Stephenson and the Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.
Coun Carpenter admitted that prior to becoming mayor he was not fully aware of the charity’s work but says he is now a big fan.
“I was proud to be representing Skegness knowing that we’ve got an award-winning organisation such as Coastwatch in the town,” he said. “I think they do a great job and they deserve the utmost support.”
The organisation opened in Lincolnshire 13 years ago and has since provided 150,000 man hours, keeping an eye on the county’s coastline.
“We are the first link in the search and rescue chain because we are pro-active - we’re looking for problems and then we activate the search response,” said Mr Whalley.
“There’s no substitute for the mark one eyeball.”
Coastwatch currently operates from Skegness and Mablethorpe but will be opening another facility in the North Sea Observatory in Chapel Point next year.
Mr Whalley says there are plans for another four stations in the coming years and hopes that more volunteers come forward - a role he says is both rewarding and enjoyable.
“It gives people a purpose and there’s a great camaraderie because you share a watch with a colleague,” he said.
Coastwatch was nominated for the award by Skegness councillors Dick Edginton and John Byford.
To volunteer visit www.nci.org.uk.