Royal visitor brightened their day

Just Regional
Feb 15, 2024 3 mins read

A drizzly January day turned a lot brighter for the team at Cromer Coastwatch when the Princess Royal paid them a visit.

The princess, who is patron of the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI), visited the station, which looks over a particularly busy and potentially dangerous stretch of the coast.

She was received by the lord-lieutenant of Norfolk, Lady Dannatt, who presented Linda Lawrence, NCI regional trustee for the east coast and East Anglia and a former Cromer station manager, and current manager Richard Leeds.

During her visit, the princess – wearing a blue and red checked trouser suit and a bright red scarf – was shown around the watch room and told about the work of the highly trained volunteer watchkeepers and the part they play in helping to save lives along the coast.

Duty watchkeepers Andrew Pearcey and Neil Smith were also presented.

The Coastwatch team based at Cromer keep a visual and radio vigil, looking out for anyone in potential danger. They report any incidents to the coastguard so that help can be sent.

After visiting the station, the princess went to a reception at the Cliftonville Hotel which was attended by around 30 NCI watchkeepers and station managers from around East Anglia, NCI trustees and guests from the local community.

Guests included representatives from Cromer Lifeboat, the RNLI, HM Coastguard, local councillors, Sheringham Shoal Windfarm and Simon Clipsom, who, as Morrisons Cromer Community Champion, has helped with fundraising over the years.

Stephen Hand, NCI chairman, invited the princess to present long-service awards to Glenice Knight, John Wootten and Andrew Pearcey, who have each volunteered for five years. She also unveiled a plaque to commemorate the visit which will be placed in the Cromer station.

Stephen said: “What a wonderful start to the year in which we will celebrate our 30th anniversary. It’s a huge source of pride that HRH the Princess Royal is our patron and that she takes such an active interest in our work.

“Her visits are always a great boost for our volunteers and all our friends and supporters in the local communities.”

NCI Cromer is on the former site of NCI Runton, which was destroyed by storm damage. Thanks to donations, the current station has been in place since 2018.

Its role is keeping watch on a very busy seaway holding many dangers for shipping – including sandbanks, windfarms and gas platforms – as well as being a popular destination for holidaymakers and watersports enthusiasts.

Officially recognised as part of the UK’s maritime search and rescue organisation, National Coastwatch is staffed totally by volunteers, with more than 2,700 trained watchkeepers working from 60 stations around England and Wales.

PICTURES: Andreas Yiasimi

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