Help keep an eye on the coast

Just Regional
Dec 8, 2021 2 mins read

Whenever anyone goes for a swim, heads out on their paddleboard or sails a boat on the waters off Cromer, someone always has their eyes on them.
The Coastwatch organisation has teams of volunteers spread along our coastline, watching all the activities and making sure help is at hand if needed.

And now they need your help, with a plea for more volunteers.
“We are looking for anybody and everybody,” said media officer Niels Thomas. “You don’t need any previous maritime experience and you get the tremendous feeling that you are contributing to the safety of the beaches and onshore waters.”

The watch station, which is perched on the cliff at East Runton, is manned during daylight hours all year round.

The Cromer Coastwatch station.

The three shifts a day are all shared between 40 volunteers.
“As we require six watchkeepers a day in the summer and four in the winter we are always in need of more volunteers,” said Niels, who has been volunteering for just over a year.
Training takes three months and there is an assessment at the end so it is a commitment and is taken seriously.
As the name suggests, watchkeepers keep watch on people, craft and animals – and, in the case of Cromer, windfarms and rigs – reporting any incidents or potential dangers immediately to the coastguard and lifeboat stations.
The National Coastwatch Institution was set up in 1994 to fill the gaps left after the coastguard stations were cut back. From its first station in Cornwall it now has 57 stations around the British coastline, with four in Norfolk.
“We are the eyes and the ears in the empty spots not covered by the coastguard,” said Niels.

If you’re interested in knowing more, email Niels at or visit

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