On 21 January 2017, Dr Sarah Wollaston, M.P. for Totnes, took time off from her busy parliamentary schedule to open the updated Visitor Centre at the Froward Point National Coastwatch Station. This was a notable moment for the Station as it marked the end of yet another phase of upgrades to the former WW2 shore battery lookout since it opened in 2005.
The isolated Station lacks mains electricity so the Visitor Centre displays are static printed acrylic panels explaining the local flora and fauna, Start Bay shipwrecks, local walks as well as the role of the “Eyes Along the Coast” volunteers and Search and Rescue services.
Sarah Wollaston also viewed the new panoramic Station windows provided by Southfield Windows of Totnes, new radar equipment, new monocular scope and defibrillator. All these developments have only been possible thanks to the enormous generosity of the general public, sponsors and the willing co-operation of the National Trust – without which the organisation would not exist.
Sarah has been a consistent supporter of Froward Point and expressed a big “Thank You” to the sixty or so volunteers who faithfully maintain the service 365 days a year.
Thanks to generous sponsorship from Valeport Ltd. of Totnes a fully automatic defibrillator has been provided at the Froward Point National Coastwatch station near Kingswear. The sponsorship allowed Coastwatch volunteers to produce a 2016 calendar and £1,250 of the proceeds has been used to buy a Powerheart G5 Fully Automated External Defibrillator.
Froward Point is an isolated area a mile from the nearest road. The adjacent South West Coast Path can be challenging for unwary visitors and the Coastwatch station has previously helped walkers in difficulties. At the suggestion of watchkeepers a project team was set up by Froward Point to consider how the care of walkers could be improved. Expert advice was sought from Justin Sharples of the South Western Ambulance Service Trust, who gave freely of his time, and the defibrillator is now available while the station is open.
Valeport Ltd. is a manufacturer of hydrographic, hydrometric and oceanographic equipment. Company Chairman, Charles Quartley, regularly sails out of the Dart and his yacht “Impi” is a familiar sight to the watchkeepers. Valeport has also provided sponsorship for the 2017 calendar which is now available for sale.
Pictured – top: Charles Quartley presents the defibrillator to Stuart Rostron, Station Manager, NCI Froward Point – above: As installed in the watchstation with self inflating mat and first aid kit.
Two NCI Froward Point watchkeepers, Austin Guy and Tony James, received an unexpected visit from NCI President Jon Gifford and Station Manager in January. Unbeknownst to them they had both completed 500 watches, the first to do so in Froward Point’s 10 year existence. Presenting both with framed copies of noted local artist Paul Barclay’s picture of the watchstation, Jon Gifford acknowledged their commitment in carrying out such a consistent number of watches over so long a period.
Two NCI stations in South Devon, Froward Point and Torbay, each received £400 donations from Paignton’s Preston Rotary Club before Christmas. The Rotary Club has supported NCI previously and their continued generosity is a key element in each Stations fundraising. The donations are part of £12000 raised by Rotary members at their annual Charity Golf Day at Dainton Park Golf Club.
The National Coastwatch station at Froward Point ended its 10 year anniversary celebrations with an awards ceremony at Royal Dart Yacht Club. Eight watchkeepers have completed 10 years’ service, together with two members of the fundraising Friends of Froward group.
National Coastwatch Institution President, Jon Gifford, presented the awards and also 5 years’ service awards to a further three watchkeepers.
NCI Froward Point maintains a daily watch over Start Bay and the entrance to the river Dart. With a stream of new recruits, an enhanced training programme and huge local support, Froward Point will still be providing “Eyes along the Coast” for many years to come.
Two Mile Oak landlady Debbie Edger and fiancé David Beechey support a different charity annually and in 2014 NCI Froward Point has been the lucky recipient. Raising money by means of book and calendar sales, collecting boxes and the Christmas Prize Draw, Debbie and her staff have so impressed the NCI watchkeepers that they now have a monthly lunch at the Inn. A local artist, Geoff Goodwin, also kindly denoted a percentage of all sales of his pictures displayed in Two Mile Oak Inn.
Chairman Paul West said “The money raised by Debbie and her staff will go a long way to cover Froward Point’s £8,000 annual running costs. Their generous support and hard work are deeply appreciated”.
Over 120 Coastwatch watchkeepers and guests enjoyed a spectacular September river cruise and music evening on the Kingswear Castle paddle steamer, thanks to the generosity of Andrew Pooley, Managing Director of the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company, who made the vessel available totally free of charge. The cruise enabled Froward Point’s National Coastwatch Institution station to raise in excess of £1,200 towards the station’s annual £8,000 running costs.
The NCI President John Gifford and his wife Rosemary were honoured guests. Also on board was Robin Cox, grandson and great nephew of two of the founders of Cox and Co. of Falmouth who built and later refurbished the vessel’s 1904 engines. The Kingswear Castle, the only coal-fired paddle steamer in the U.K., is now a familiar sight to the watchkeepers as it ventures to the mouth of the River Dart on pleasure cruises. Celebrating its 90th anniversary, the vessel has been owned by the Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust since 1967. It provided the perfect setting for enjoying the Dart on a balmy September 2014 evening serenaded by Mike Green’s accordion music. A magnificent red sunset provided a fitting end to a truly memorable occasion.
Moreton and Fyfield Scouts from Essex made a pre-arranged visit to Froward Point on a balmy August Sunday morning. Ten scouts and 2 leaders visited the lookout in groups to see the watchkeepers in action. Our visitors seemed to enjoy themselves and provided a barrage of questions to tax the watchkeepers’ knowledge.
NCI Froward Point recently had the pleasure of welcoming members of the Hallberg Rassey Owners Association. 24 yachts of the HROA assembled for a 3-day visit to Dartmouth. After walking from Kingswear to the former home of D'oyly Carte, Coleton Fishacre, they returned on the Southwest Coast Path via Froward Point. Extra Watchkeepers attended so normal duties continued while the HROA members visited the lookout in groups. In appreciation of the arrangements that had been made the visitors generously presented a donation of £160 to Station Manager Stuart Rostron.
On 20 May 2016 an article in the Dartmouth Chronicle covered the Orpheus Male Voice Choir's performance in the Kingswear Parish Church which raised £485 for NCI at Froward Point. To see the full article, click more.
A magnificent £729 was raised for the Coastwatch station at Froward Point, thanks to the generosity of Kate Ryder, owner of Café Alf Resco and the efforts of the Friends of Froward. Kate provided premises, staff, lunches, cakes, biscuits and drinks entirely free of charge on Easter Saturday afternoon and, despite wind and rain, customers flocked in to fill the Café for afternoon teas. It is the second time that Kate and her staff have come to the aid of Froward Point. Station Manager Stuart Rostron emphasised just how much their support is appreciated, saying “All our funds come from the general public and Kate’s support is a prime example of the generous help we receive from local people. Without it we would simply cease to exist.” Pictured: Alf Fresco Manager Leanne and colleague Bibi toast their success.
Before Christmas 2015 NCI Froward Point welcomed two Dutch visitors, Jan Nijborg and Anna de Jong, who regularly visit the U.K. for long distance walks, especially the South West Coast Path. After talking to watchkeepers Paul West and Sheila Silcock Jan and Anna were suitably impressed, so much so that after returning home and researching NCI they made a substantial donation with the comment that they appreciated the safety net NCI stations provide for walkers such as themselves. This comment came true a few weeks later when a walker became ill and was helped to the lookout by his companions. Fortunately, after tea and a rest, the illness passed and the party was ferried by Paul West (he gets everywhere!) back to their accommodation at Kingswear Castle. Again, a very welcome donation resulted.
After several frustrating delays our brand new generator was delivered to Froward Point in mid-July and is now in operation. The Froward Point team thanks the donors from all over the country very, very much indeed for their patience, support and generous contributions which reached £1,005. This has been an enormous help and is very much appreciated.
We have also valued and enjoyed all your interesting and delightful comments about how and why you use our weather information wherever you are – even if far from the coast. They mean a lot to us.
We do hope you will visit the watchstation when you can – please make yourself known to the duty watch keepers.
Rarely does a picture summarise a scene as well as Paul Barclays’s drawing of the isolated NCI Froward Point station near Kingswear. Paul is an internationally known Dartmouth painter and illustrator, who was moved to produce his own generous tribute to the watchkeepers keeping their lonely vigil high over Start Bay. The drawing has the unique and recognisable Paul Barclay quality. Paul’s long associations with the Dart, the sea and the yachting world have allowed him to use his self-taught style with an unusual insight, demonstrating that connection between the land and sea so fundamental to Coastwatch activities.
At the formal presentation of the picture NCI Froward Point Chairman, Paul West, said: "Thankfully we often receive generous financial support from sponsors and the public but for an artist such as Paul to give his time and use his talent on our behalf is particularly pleasing."
Generous traders helped to turn a raffle at Dartmouth Conservative Club into an evening of charity fundraising. NCI Froward Point watchkeeper Mike Wilton was one of the first to offer a prize, a bottle of whisky, and the event snowballed into a raffle of 80 prizes.
Cheques for £680 were handed over to Devon Air Ambulance Trust and NCI Froward Point. The donation to Devon Air Ambulance would help to develop extended flying hours after nightfall and NCI Froward Point would use the donation towards new equipment.
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