Coastguard

The coastguards issue their own SOS

LOCALS are invited to help the Beachley Coastguard – by signing up to volunteer for the service.

The service recently lost three volunteers – two have moved on and one has retired – and station manager Richard Hoyle is keen to replace them as soon as possible.

The Coastguard is based at Beachley Slipway, opposite the Severn Area Rescue Association with whom they work closely.

Being a Coastguard can involve anything from advising on boating safety to rescuing people – or even marine life like porpoises.

Mr Hoyle explained: “In the event of an emergency in the rivers, the coastguard coordinates the incident.

“You can call 999 or make a call on VHF radio channel 16 from someone who is in trouble. (Coastguard control at) Milford Haven will take the call and they will call SARA.

“SARA goes out but the coastguard will have called them into the sea waters. Often SARA will go with the coastguard, so you have shore crew and boat crew. There may also be a helicopter.

“All the Coastguard guys are trained to be water rescuers and at Chepstow they also specialize in mud and quicksand rescue.

“They are search technicians who meet the National Police Governance Standard for Search.

“The work we do is complementary to SARA and we have specialist skills so we will be going to do Royal fish and ordnance work.”

“Royal fish” include whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sturgeons which belong to the queen if stranded.

In 2019 the Coastguard responded when a porpoise washed up in Lydney Harbour.

Mr Hoyle said: “If he is alive we will get British Divers Marine Life Rescue. If not we will go through the receiver of the wreckage to get clearance from Her Majesty to obtain permission to dispose of it.

“I’ve been on the station for over 10 years and we’ve had a whale at Beachley and a lot of porpoises and they never wanted them, but the Natural History Museum did.

“If no one wants it, we look to the landowner or local authority to help with disposal.

“The calls we usually receive are to investigate or to rescue – we may receive a call day or night to a broken down boat and we might need to go and give advice. We will call SARA to tow it.”

There were two incidents this week: the first where someone reported, in good faith, that they had seen something suspicious in the Severn which turned out to be a false alarm.

The second involved the rescue of a person who had entered the river but emerged safe and sound.

Coastguard volunteers are also trained in casualty care – skills that came into use a few weeks ago when a man climbing rocks at Sudbrook near Chepstow fell 30ft.

Like all emergency services, they must be ready to respond to an emergency call at any time.

Mr Hoyle said: “A few weeks ago we had just cleaned everything up and it looked lovely and the pager went off and we heard a 12 year old had fallen off the rocks in Sudbrook with possible spinal injuries and we sent a team immediately.”

Beachley Coastguard ‘looks after’ around 100 miles of shoreline on both sides of the Severn and the Rivers Wye, Usk and Ebbw between Gloucester and Newport.

Mr. Hoyle said that in addition to developing many skills, volunteers derive great satisfaction from helping the community.

There is great pride in being able to respond day and night to people in difficulty on the coast.

“Standing up is essential – we are able to react normally but we have to rise to the occasion.

“You can join the Coast Guard from any background: you just need to be over 18, have a full driver’s license, be fit and able to go in the water and you must commit to being called at any time of the day or night and preferably live within 15 minutes of Chepstow.”

The Coastguard is based at Beachley Slipway, opposite the Severn Area Rescue Association with whom they work closely.

Being a Coastguard can involve anything from advising on boating safety to rescuing people – or even marine life like porpoises.

Mr Hoyle explained: “In the event of an emergency in the rivers, the coastguard coordinates the incident.

“You can call 999 or make a call on VHF radio channel 16 from someone who is in trouble. (Coastguard control at) Milford Haven will take the call and they will call SARA.

“SARA goes out but the coastguard will have called them into the sea waters. Often SARA will go with the coastguard, so you have shore crew and boat crew. There may also be a helicopter.

“All the Coastguard guys are trained in water rescue and at Chepstow they also specialize in mud and quicksand rescue.

“They are search technicians who meet the National Police Governance Standard for Search.

“The work we do is complementary to SARA and we have specialist skills so we will be going to do Royal fish and ordnance work.”

“Royal fish” include whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sturgeons which belong to the queen if stranded.

In 2019 the Coastguard responded when a porpoise washed up in Lydney Harbour.

Mr Hoyle said: “If he is alive we will get British Divers Marine Life Rescue. If not we will go through the receiver of the wreckage to get clearance from Her Majesty to obtain permission to dispose of it.

“I’ve been on the station for over 10 years and we’ve had a whale at Beachley and a lot of porpoises and they never wanted them, but the Natural History Museum did.

“If no one wants it, we look to the landowner or local authority to help with disposal.

“The calls we usually receive are to investigate or to rescue – we may receive a call day or night to a broken down boat and we might need to go and give advice. We will call SARA to tow it.”

There were two incidents this week: the first where someone reported, in good faith, that they had seen something suspicious in the Severn which turned out to be a false alarm.

The second involved the rescue of a person who had entered the river but emerged safe and sound.

Coastguard volunteers are also trained in casualty care – skills that came into use a few weeks ago when a man climbing rocks at Sudbrook near Chepstow fell 30ft.

Like all emergency services, they must be ready to respond to an emergency call at any time.

Mr Hoyle said: “A few weeks ago we had just cleaned everything up and it looked lovely and the pager went off and we heard a 12 year old had fallen off the rocks in Sudbrook with possible spinal injuries and we sent a team immediately.”

Beachley Coastguard ‘looks after’ around 100 miles of shoreline on both sides of the Severn and the Rivers Wye, Usk and Ebbw between Gloucester and Newport.

Mr. Hoyle said that in addition to developing many skills, volunteers derive great satisfaction from helping the community.

There is great pride in being able to respond day and night to people in difficulty on the coast.

“Standing up is essential – we are able to react normally but we have to rise to the occasion.

“You can join the Coast Guard from any background: you just need to be over 18, have a full driver’s license, be fit and able to go in the water and you must commit to being called at any time of the day or night and preferably live within 15 minutes of Chepstow.”