Shoreham lookout station bid for special windows

West Sussex County Council chairman Pat Arculus with acting station manager David Dyke DM1509991a
West Sussex County Council chairman Pat Arculus with acting station manager David Dyke DM1509991a

VOLUNTEERS at Shoreham lookout station are launching a fundraising campaign for new windows.

The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) says the station on Shoreham Beach would benefit from outward-leaning windows, similar to control towers.

Mrs Pat Arculus, chairman of West Sussex County Council, visited the station, off Forthaven, last Wednesday, where the seed of the campaign was sown.

Watchkeeper Geoff Aspel explained the sloping style of windows would prevent problems caused by reflection.

“Because the horizon is the same level as the road, you sometimes see red lights in the evening, creating confusion,” he explained.

He admitted the cost would run into thousands but said the campaign was the next big project for the NCI volunteers.

Mrs Arculus said the team does a fantastic job and advised them about grant options available.

She said: “I am not a sailor but I have known the south coast since I was a child, so I am familiar with the lifeboats, but I had not realised that NCI was another voluntary group.

“They are absolutely essential and the fact they are volunteers is great.”

She learned that teams of volunteers watch the waters and record activity, providing information for the coastguard and RNLI, as well as reporting any incidents.

Mrs Arculus added: “It is fantastic what they do. Anyone who protects us is so important and this is the backbone of marine safety.

“Life is about taking risks but it should be calculated. For youngsters to be able to take a boat out to sea, as long as it is done properly, it is great and they know there are people there to watch over them.”

The NCI took over a bricked-up old searchlight building next to Shoreham Fort in 2008 and started to create the lookout station.

Acting station manager David Dyke joined in 2009, having been with the Maritime Volunteer Service in the now demolished coastguard tower on Shoreham Fort.

Before that, he was with HMS Sussex (RNR) in Shoreham Harbour until it closed in 1993.

“You learn the skills and it would be a waste not to use them,” he explained. “Quite a few came from there, too, but we don’t all have a nautical background. We want people with commonsense and a keen eye.

“Our role is to spot, plot and report. We also keep an eye on the beach and Shoreham Harbour.

“You need a core of experts and can then use the volunteers strategically to cover the rest. We are the volunteer support for the coastguard and we are here because we feel there is a need.

“Most of the organisations we deal with haven’t got eyes, because they are inland, so we are the ones seeing what is going on.”

He has sailed all his life and said he wanted to be able to go out to sea and enjoy myself, but liked having the reassurance of the NCI being there.

The NCI was set up in 1994 to restore a visual watch along UK shores after many small coastguard stations closed.

It followed the death of two fishermen off the Cornish coast below a recently-closed Coastguard lookout.

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