Rescuers rewarded

RESCUE services at Felixstowe have today reached the highest standards and been recognised with a national award.The resort's volunteer Coastwatch team, whose observers keep an eye on the sea and shore from the top of a Martello Tower, have now met all the training and operational standards required by HM Coastguard.

RESCUE services at Felixstowe have today reached the highest standards and been recognised with a national award.

The resort's volunteer Coastwatch team, whose observers keep an eye on the sea and shore from the top of a Martello Tower, have now met all the training and operational standards required by HM Coastguard.

Leaders of the group were presented with Declared Facility Status by Jon Gifford, national chairman of trustees for the Coastwatch organisation.

Senior watchkeeper and publicity officer at Felixstowe, Jim Williamson said the group were delighted with the award as it works closely with the Coastguard in helping to provide information and co-ordinate rescues along the resort's holiday beaches.

“The award followed a major audit of everything we do to check that we can do what we say we can do,” said Mr Williamson.

“We are a volunteer organisation but our volunteers have to meet the training criteria and comply with all the regulations, as does our equipment and procedures.

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“We work closely with the Coastguard and their officers need to know that we have met all the necessary rules and regulations so they can rely on us at all times.”

Felixstowe Coastwatch is part of a chain of 32 observation stations around the UK coastline and were set up a decade ago as the role of HM Coastguard changed, with coastguards having larger areas to patrol and focussing heavily on sea safety and prevention of incidents.

It was felt there was still a need to have people watching the sea and shore to provide fast information about incidents.

Its 31 watchkeepers - who work on a rota system - liaise closely with the resort's network of patrol and rescue services, including Suffolk Coastal council's beach and seafront team, RNLI, Felixstowe Coast Patrol and Rescue Service, with the Coastguard as the main co-ordinator.

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