National Coastwatch Shoreham: Plans for rooftop camera and new radar given a boost

Improvements at National Coastwatch Shoreham, including new radar and a rooftop camera to give a wider view, have been given a boost thanks to the son of one of the volunteer watchkeepers.

Liam Cornford raised more than £600 by abseiling down Brighton’s i360 in September and visited the station on Shoreham Beach on Friday to present a cheque.

He said: “In support of me being a proud son whose father is one of a team of watchkeepers in Shoreham, I decided to help raise some much-needed funds to replace one of the radars at the lookout station.

“They are also looking to extend their visual capability by adding additional CCTV cameras along the coast that they look after.”

Liam Cornford presents the cheque to station manager Stephen Hand watched by National Coastwatch Shoreham volunteers. Picture: Steve Robards SR2110152

Liam’s father Paul Cornford is well known as a former policeman in Hurstpierpoint, where they live, and villagers have been supporting the cause by donating to a collection tin in the village shop.

Liam said: “He helped many people out in this role and is not one to ask for help very easily himself, so at least this way I can help without him needing to ask.”

The NCI charity is run entirely on donations and all watchkeepers are volunteers. Shoreham has a team of 64 volunteers from all over Sussex and this year alone, they have been involved in 22 search and rescue incidents, including guiding the RNLI to save two people drifting out to sea in an inflatable in February.

Liam said: “Without this service, our coast would be missing a vital emergency service and as we are all now venturing out and about, we need them to help keep us safe more so than ever.

“With this in mind, I decided that I should face a fear and put myself through some much-needed stress and worry by abseiling out of the Brighton i360. Yes, I am scared of heights and yes, I may have thought I was doing a bungee jump when I agreed to sign up but hey, facing a fear is all about self growth, so why not.”

Stephen Hand, station manager, said the team was urgently in need of new radar, which is used to track vessels in the distance.

He explained: “We use eyes and ears for close work and the radar takes over on the horizon. We find it really useful. We can log what has gone past, including the name, type and destination, which can help the RNLI to cut down the search area.”

The other ongoing project is to install safety rails and a proper staircase to the top of the tower, so a camera can be installed and watchkeepers can access it if necessary.

Stephen explained that views over Lancing and across to Worthing Pier can be seen only if the watchkeepers walk down to the beach.

He added: “The view from the tower of the beach and inshore waters to the west is restricted. We get lots of calls from the coastguard about windsurfers, asking us to look when there are people in trouble on Lancing Beach, and we have to walk down to the beach to be able to see.

“With a camera on the roof, we can be ahead of the incident happening, we can see them if they are getting in to trouble.”

Stephen said every station had seen an increase in incidents and in this area, there had been a notable build up in the number of paddleboarders, often going quite far out to sea.

He said: “One of the big messages is to take a form of communication with them and to tell someone where they are going.”

At the annual meeting on Friday, Colin Clay, who has been a watchkeeper for more than four years, will take over as station manager, as Stephen is to become the general secretary of the charity nationally.

Colin, who lives on Shoreham Beach, will be overseeing the project and said it is close to his heart.