The watchkeepers who monitor the seas of the Fylde coast every single day are appealing for more volunteers.

The watchkeepers at Rossall Point are appealing for more volunteers.
The watchkeepers at Rossall Point are appealing for more volunteers.

The watchkeepers who monitor the seas of the Fylde coast every single day are appealing for more volunteers.

From their lookout post at Rossall Point, the group of watchkeepers are part of a vital team whose hard work helps to avoid potentially fatal accidents at sea.

The observation tower in Fleetwood is the only National Coastwatch Institution station in the North West – but, despite having around 30 volunteers who come from as far away as Bradford to help keep it open all year round, it is in need of more.

Ken Harcombe, who said his love of bird watching was one of the reasons he started volunteering at the tower, explained how the team can play a vital role in saving lives.

“We report to the Coastguard if anything happens,” he said. “We ring them and tell them and if they need any support then we are here.

“If we just save one person a year then it’s all worth it.”

Because of their position in the tower, he said, the watchkeepers are well-placed to help guide RNLI lifeboats to a casualty – particularly when large waves make it difficult to navigate from sea-level.

But they also help to spot people who are about to get in trouble, and can act before they put themselves in harm’s way.

“We are looking out for vulnerable people,” he explained.

“You can get gullies up to six feet deep.

“On a nice sunny day a person could walk out there and you’re not thinking about the tide and you have no idea about the conditions.”

Is such cases, the volunteers in the tower can spot people in danger of being cut off by the tide, and send someone to help them to safety.

Another volunteer, Andy Rose , said: “Primarily, we are concerned with people on the beach, small vessels and lilos – that sort of thing.

“The tide comes in at between 3.7mph and 3.9mph, so it’s quite a fast tide. Most people are oblivious to what’s going on.

“We are looking for people walking their dogs or taking a stroll who aren’t aware the tide is coming in.”

But the demands of having someone on watch every day – including Christmas Day – from 10am until 4pm, or 6pm during the summer months, means they need plenty of volunteers to help out.

And as the group appeals for new recruits, one recent addition, Nicola Allatt, said that she is proof you don’t need experience of the sea to get involved.

“I finished my training just last month,” she added.

“I’m a piano teacher and I had no nautical experience whatsoever.

“But there’s training here and at the nautical college, so now I know a lot more.”

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer is invited to go along and meet the watchkeepers.

Volunteers are required to commit to two or more shifts a month and, due to the nature of the job, it is not suitable for anyone with a disability that means they cannot access the tower.

n For more information and contact details, visit the website at www.ncirossallpointfleetwood.co.uk.