CIVIC leaders from across Dorset enjoyed a tour of Portland Bill’s National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) lookout station.

The trip was led by Portland Mayor Sylvia Bradley, who has nominated Coastwatch (NCI) Portland Bill as one of her chosen charities for the year.

Her group of 32 civic leaders were welcomed by the station manager, Geoff Peters and shown around the lookout and newly furnished training centre.

Their tour included the watch room and DVD shown by Deputy Station Manager, John Watts, who explained the work the 65 highly trained NCI volunteers, and five trainees, carry out from 7am to 7pm daily.

Mr Peters said: “This was the first time the newly built and recently furnished training centre had been used for such a visit and it was very fitting that it was for a Portland Mayor who is keen to support NCI.

“The purpose of the Mayor’s visit was to come and see us as we’re one of her nominated charities of the year.

“She wanted to show her fellow civic leaders and it was wonderful to get so many together at one time.

“Councillor Bradley is a good supporter of us and we wanted to show off the training centre which is now fully refurbished.

“They all liked it. It was a really, really good trip.”

NCI was founded in 1994 to support the coastguard by keeping a visual and radio watch along the UK’s shores. Its volunteers alert the coastguard to problems and potential dangers.

The four Dorset stations are based at Peveril Point in Swanage, St Alban’s Head on the Isle of Purbeck, Portland Bill and Lyme Bay at Burton Bradstock and are officially part of the Dorset Search & Rescue team.

The volunteers not only monitor all shipping, leisure and commercial craft using the 640 square miles of sea around the Bill but also watch out for walkers and horse riders.

Last year alone they logged 15,962 vessels and were involved with more than 160 incidents, all of which could have ended very differently had Coastwatch not been there.

The Princess Royal has officially joined the team at Portland Bill by becoming an Honorary Watchkeeper, a further endorsement of the importance of the work the volunteers carry out daily at the lookout.