World first for National Coastwatch


National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) has established a pioneering scheme that unites students from around the world and local community volunteers, with the shared aim of helping to save lives around the coast.

HRH The Princess Royal, NCI’s Royal Patron visited St Donat’s Bay station earlier this year  HRH The Princess Royal, NCI’s Royal Patron visited St Donat’s Bay station earlier this year  

In what’s thought to be a world-first, the NCI has established the collaborative scheme at its station at the prestigious UWC Atlantic College at St Donat’s, South Wales. It is the only National Coastwatch station in which students work with local volunteers to monitor the sea and shoreline and raise the alarm if anyone is in danger.

The NCI St Donat’s Bay station is one of nearly 60 of the charity’s stations around Wales and England. Atlantic College students (aged between 16 and 19) are receiving the NCI’s watchkeeping training in a range of skills such as interpreting weather and tides, VHF radio operation and reading maritime charts. It’s also part of their formal International Baccalaureate qualification which requires an element of service in the community.

Seven student NCI ‘cadets’ from Canada, Kenya, Taiwan, Pakistan, China, Peru and the Netherlands are now completing their training. They are taking part in watchkeeping duties under the supervision of trained volunteers from the local area.


The St Donat’s Bay station opened in 2021 and is expected to achieve HM Coastguard Declared Facility Status in 2023 which means it is formally recognised as part of the maritime search and rescue organisation. 

Jo Schup, St Donat’s Bay Station Manager said:   
“I am delighted how far the station has progressed since we started and the crew should be very proud to have reached this state of readiness within two years.

“NCI St Donat’s is unique in its close collaboration with students from UWC Atlantic. Through these young cadets, we are able to ensure the vital search and rescue skills are taught, maintained and developed. These students are inspiring to the NCI St Donat’s crew and we know when they graduate and return to their home countries, the skills they have learnt will be embedded and used across the world.” 

NCI Cadet Andrea Valeria Choque Coronel added:
“Being a cadet and working with the NCI is a very interesting experience because I am gaining knowledge about what it is to be a watchkeeper along the coast and how to use the proper tools such as maps and VHF radio. I am from Puno in Peru which has the highest lake in the world.

“I want to implement such a program back in my country and be the pioneer in my region to bring this helpful and amazing concept of NCI along the large Peruvian coasts.”

About the NCI 

The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) is a Registered Charity (No. 1159975).  It operates nearly 60 stations around the coasts of England and Wales, staffed by over 2,600 qualified volunteers.  

The entire operation is funded by donations. If you would like to donate, please click the button below, or to find out about becoming a volunteer, go to  

National Coastwatch Institution | Eyes Along The Coast

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