Lifesavers set up on Caister coast

A LIFE-SAVING and vigilant group of volunteers are expected to shortly set up their services along the Caister coastline.

Plans are under way to convert an empty observation room above the village’s Heritage Centre in the former lifeboat shed into a home for a National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) station.

It is hoped that the space will become a home for sea-scanning eyes and radar-detecting equipment by Easter, though efforts remain under way to fundraise and recruit more people to help out. The service would run during the daylight hours of weekends, with those involved keeping a look out for everything from ships on fire to holidaymakers drifting out to sea on lilos before passing on the information to rescuers.

It also follows on from the success of the Gorleston station, which has been around for a decade and involves more than 40 volunteers.

Retired police officer Rob Barker is currently a watchkeeper at the Gorleston site and will be station manager at the new base when it opens.

He said: “It will be making the coastline of Caister safer, and those going out at sea will be in the know that someone is looking after them.”

The moves follow on from the independent Caister Lifeboat team contacting the NCI early last year about the idea.

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And it was after approval, given in the summer, that fundraising began.

Ideally, around �6,000 is required to fully kit out the room, and around nine volunteers are needed to cover the shifts.

So far, around �1,600 has been raised and there are four volunteers.

However, Mr Barker explained the full financial total was not necessary to begin with, saying: “We don’t need all the equipment in there to start.

“Even though electronic equipment is brilliant it doesn’t see people floating out at sea, red flares sent out by ships in distress or debris in the water that might put a ship in hazard.”

He added that he was still on the look-out for volunteers, who would receive six weeks of training of four hours a week in everything from using radar to estimating distances.

The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) is a voluntary organisation set up in 1994 to restore a visual watch along UK shores.

l To donate or get involved, contact Rob Barker on 01493 749971 or go to and apply there.