Eagle-eyes guard coastline

MARTELLO Towers dotted along Felixstowe's five-mile coastline used to have men stationed on top keeping watch for Napoleon's fighting forces.Today one of them still has a look-out manned all year round keeping an eagle-eye on the sea and beaches – not for invaders, but to ensure people enjoying the resort are safe and sound.

MARTELLO Towers dotted along Felixstowe's five-mile coastline used to have men stationed on top keeping watch for Napoleon's fighting forces.

Today one of them still has a look-out manned all year round keeping an eagle-eye on the sea and beaches – not for invaders, but to ensure people enjoying the resort are safe and sound.

Tower P in Langer Road is home to the town's branch of the National Coastwatch Institution, and the group is always on the look-out for new members to help keep its watch rotas fully staffed.

Senior watchkeeper John Lowery said the station currently had 20 volunteers who carry out a range of duties.

"We maintain a visual watch of commercial and leisure users of our sea and beaches, assisting HM Coastguard and rescue services, monitoring the VHF radio distress frequency, to help and locate people and vessels in difficulty and pass on information to the co-ordinating authority," said Mr Lowery.

Volunteers also keep an eye on vulnerable craft – especially small boats and inflatables launched from the beach – and monitor weather and sea conditions to give advice to walkers, fishermen, sailors and others.

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Other activities include safeguarding the environment and coastal and marine wildlife, as well as helping the police and Customs and Excise.

The station is manned at weekends all year round with watchkeepers carrying out four-hourly daylight duties on a rota.

The station – which has tremendous views of the whole seafront – is equipped with binoculars, telescope, VHF radios, an electronic chart plotter and computer system, and volunteers are given full training.

People wanting more information about Coastwatch and how to join up should call 01394 272440 or 01394 670808 or e-mail ncifxt@bun.com

WEBLINK: www.nci.org.uk/felixstowe.html

n Does your club or organisation need more members or publicity for its activities? Let us help – call the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788.

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