PRINCESS Anne and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence have joined Portland Bill’s National Coast-watch team.

The royal couple have given the island volunteers a boost by accepting an invitation to become Honorary Watchkeepers at the life-saving lookout point.

The National Coastwatch Institution team is celebrating the royal seal of approval.

Station manager Geoff Peters said: “Our team have just received the best endorsement they could possibly obtain for the volunteer work they carry out 12 hours per day for 365 days a year at the Portland Bill lookout.

“Not only were we awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year – an award that is the equivalent of an MBE in the volunteer sector – we have now received letters from both the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence saying they would become Honorary Watchkeepers at NCI Portland.”

This announcement follows Princess Anne and Sir Tim’s visit to the lookout in August when the Princess Royal opened the new training centre and saw the new CCTV camera which is mounted at the top of the lighthouse, transmitting images back to the watch room.

This was of particular interest to the princess as she is Master of Trinity House, the authority which owns and maintains the lighthouses around the United Kingdom.

The Princess Royal presented the QAVS award to the four Dorset NCI Station Managers during this visit and, together with her husband, intimated they would be willing to become Honorary Watchkeepers.

Sir Tim joked his wife would have to ‘undergo training’.

On an earlier visit to the Coastwatch station in April 2006 the princess opened the newly re-built lookout on a wet day, with a gale force eight wind, the watchkeepers were working an incident where a 40ft yacht ‘Jakinda’ was in difficulties in very heavy seas.

Princess Anne saw firsthand the importance of the work the 65 highly-trained volunteers carry out at Portland and because of this they have both chosen to join the team.

Mr Peters added: “To receive this honour is more than we could ever have dreamed of, our dedicated team at Portland carry out their watches relentlessly in all winds and weather, never knowing what can occur during their watch. The team all want to know which of the three, four hour, daily watches HRH and Sir Tim will be completing.”

Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Valerie Pitt Rivers said: “This is wonderful news for the team at NCI Portland Bill who all do a wonderful job and deserve any recognition they get.”