WATCHKEEPERS at the National Coastwatch station in Gosport have received a visit from the Mayor, Councillor Jamie Hutchison.
Station Manager Colin Church, together with other officers and the on-duty watchkeepers, welcomed him and described the history and work of National Coastwatch, as well as explaining the computer, radio equipment and maritime charts with which the station is equipped.
And Mr Hutchinson said afterwards: “I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and knowledge of the Coastwatch volunteers. Our town is extremely fortunate in having such a dedicated organisation monitoring the safety of all who use our coastline.”
During his time at the National Coastwatch station, the Mayor was asked to inaugurate a new flagpole by raising the station flag, assisted by Colin Church, who said: “Our station flag – and flagpole – are an important statement about our presence and purpose at Gosport.
“They establish our position as a national safety organisation, and the flag is flown 364 days a year to let everyone know that the station is open.
“National Coastwatch has come a long way since its original inception in 1994 and it is now a highly valued asset of HM Coastguard’s Search & Rescue Service. It has helped save many lives around the coasts of England and Wales in recent years.”
The Gosport station continues this work after the closure of Fort Blockhouse and HMS Dolphin, the former submarine base with its iconic ‘Eternal Watchkeeper’. The statue celebrates the life of Leading Seaman Reginald Read, who served as a Torpedo Gunner in submarines between 1939 and 1947.
He is depicted as the ‘Eternal Watchkeeper’ on lookout duty at sea, with his binoculars at the ready. And the scene is replicated today by highly trained National Coastwatch volunteers as they watch over the safety of people and vessels in the congested waters of the Eastern Solent.
PICTURED: Main image, Gosport Mayor Councillor Jamie Hutchinson discussing the work of National Coastwatch with Watchkeepers Caroline Hildrew and Nick Carter, while his driver Mark studies one of the maritime charts. Also shown are the Mayor preparing to hoist the station flag with help from Station Manger Colin Church and Deputy Caroline Hildrew, and the statue of Leading Seaman Reginald Read, the ‘Eternal Watchkeeper’