Royal Seal of Approval

The National Coastwatch team at Portland Bill have just received the best endorsement they could possibly obtain for the volunteer work they carry out 12 hours per day for 365 days a year at the Portland Bill lookout. Not only were they awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year, an award that is the equivalent of an MBE in the volunteer sector, they have now received letters from both HRH The Princess Royal & Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence saying they would both be delighted to become Honorary Watchkeepers at NCI Portland.

This announcement follows their successful visit to the lookout in August when HRH opened the recently built Training Centre & saw the new CCTV camera which is mounted at the top of the light house, transmitting a picture back to the watch room. This was of particular interest to HRH as she is Master of Trinity House, who own & maintain the light houses around the UK.

HRH The Princess Royal also presented the QAVS award to the four Dorset NCI Station Managers on the same day. It was during that visit that they intimated that they would be willing to become Honorary Watch Keepers, although Sir Tim did say that HRH would have to undergo training!

On an earlier visit to the Coastwatch station in April 2006 The Princess opened the newly re-built lookout on a very wet day, with a gale force 8 blowing, the watchkeepers were actually working an incident where a 40ft yacht ‘Jakinda’ was in difficulties in what could only be described as very heavy seas. She commandeered the high powered binoculars & monitored the situation until such times as the yacht reached slightly calmer waters. HRH saw firsthand the importance of the valuable work the 65 highly trained volunteers carry out at  Portland and because of this they have both bestowed this honour on NCI Portland Bill.

Station Manager, Geoff Peters, said ‘To receive this honouris more than we could ever have dreamed of, our dedicated team at Portland carry out their watches relentlessly in all winds & weather, never knowing what can occur during their watch, to have this endorsement on top of being presented with the QAVS really is the icing on the cake. The team all want to know which of the three, four hour, daily watches HRH & Sir Tim will be completing’.

Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Mrs Val Pitt Rivers says ‘This is wonderful news for the team at NCI Portland Bill who all do a wonderful job & deserve all the recognition they can get’.