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Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (2012)

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Queen's Award for Cefas Coastwatch Volunteer

10 July 2012

Cefas Deputy Operations and Business Manager, Carole Norrie, has been awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service as a member of the National Coastwatch Institution's (NCI's) Portland Bill station in Dorset.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is a great honour and this one feels doubly special as it has awarded in The Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.

Each NCI station is staffed by a team of fully trained and dedicated volunteers who keep a daylight watch for up to 365 days a year.

Volunteer watchkeepers are the eyes and ears along the coast. They keep a visual watch, monitor radio channels and radar, and provide a listening watch in poor visibility. Surveillance work is mainly routine but watchkeepers are trained to act in an emergency and, if required, co-ordinate with the search and rescue services.

Carole Norrie, in NCI uniformCarole has been a member of the Portland Bill NCI station for nearly ten years. She said: "I keep watch from 07.00 to 11.00 every 2nd Sunday morning throughout the year. I am also the station's H&S and Welfare Officer, so am on the Management Committee. I also assist with routine fundraising, attending events and generally rattling a tin."

The look-out at Portland Bill is staffed from 07.00 to 19.00 in the summer, and for a slightly shorter time during the winter months (December to February). Stations are equipped with telescopes, radar, telephone and weather instrumentation as well as up-to-date charts.

Former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE, Chair of the Voluntary Service Award Committee, said:

"In this Diamond Jubilee Year the judges have been hugely impressed by the many imaginative ways that volunteers are coming together to help build and sustain the fabric of our society. They are proof that in these difficult times the community spirit is alive and well right across the UK."

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service isn't the first time the station has had a "brush" with royalty. The Portland Bill team were able to display their skills during the rescue of a yacht at the very time that HRH Princess Anne was visiting the station.

Though the Portland Bill station received the good news early in June, the day of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration, the NCI team will officially receive their Award in early August when the main Olympic sailing events will be held in Weymouth and Portland. Princess Anne will again visit the Portland Bill station to confer the honour, on behalf of The Queen.

In the meantime, Carole and the rest of the Portland Bill NCI team will have their eyes and ears trained on the waters round Portland Bill, when many more sailing craft and other vessels are expected to visit the area during the Olympics.

Fact file

  • The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service was created to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002, recognising outstanding contributions by groups of volunteers. For a voluntary group, it is the equivalent of getting an MBE.
  • The Cefas Connects initiative supports staff in sharing their time and skills to make a worthwhile contribution to the local community and beyond. The agency particularly favours initiatives that align with its remit:

- supporting those who work with, or on the sea

- conservation activities

- communicating science to wider audiences.

    See this news item for more examples of Cefas volunteering.

  • By the end of 2010 NCI volunteers completed a total of over 190,000 hours' watchkeeping, identifying and logging over 462,000 vessels. To find out more about what watchkeepers do and how to volunteer, visit http://www.nci.org.uk/node/203.

Story updated on 13 July with additional information about when the honour will be officially conferred.

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Last Modified: 27 April 2014