GALLERY: Bembridge and Seaview welcome Royal visitor

By Mal Butler May 17, 2024

A flotilla of schoolchildren greeted HRH Princess Anne on her visit to Seaview yesterday.

The Princess Royal took to the waters off Seaview, to watch children from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School learning to sail as part of a weekly programme of free tuition at Sea View Yacht Club.

After meeting the children as they de-rigged their ‘Pico’ boats on the beach, Princess Anne then officially opened the yacht club’s new training centre and boat park on Duver Road, delivering an inspirational speech as she unveiled a celebratory plaque.

The Seaview Sailing Trust, founded by the Sea View Yacht Club in 2022, is a charitable programme providing Island Year 5 primary school children with up to 10 free sailing lessons during the summer term.

Earlier in the day, the Princess met volunteers who help save lives around the coast at a special celebration at the National Coastwatch Station, Bembridge.

The hard-working Princess is the Royal Patron of the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI), a charity run by volunteers. This year it celebrates its 30th anniversary of helping to save lives around the coast.

It is the Princess Royal’s fifth visit this year to an NCI station and NCI Bembridge is unique amongst the charity’s 60 stations, all at key coastal locations. It was officially opened in October 2022 and is the only watch station to be co-located in an operational HM Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT) station, with the teams working closely together.

The Island’s Lord-Lieutenant Susie Sheldon received the Royal visitor at the station. She was then presented to NCI acting Chairman, Dr Chris Aps, and station manager, Michael Batcheler.

Michael escorted the Princess into the station’s watch room for a briefing about the work of the highly-trained volunteer watchkeepers, and their part in helping to save lives around the coast. Duty watchkeepers, Jo Haigh and Colin Caldicott, were presented.

After visiting the station, The Princess Royal attended a reception at the nearby Brading Haven Yacht Club, which was attended by around 26 NCI watchkeepers as well as NCI trustee, Gail Rendle, and NCI sector manager, Ron Hamilton.

Certificates and epaulettes were presented to three newly-qualified watchkeepers, Mike Randall, Peter Knight and Simon Smith.

Dr Aps said: “We’re privileged to welcome HRH The Princess Royal and today has really put NCI Bembridge on the map. The station is unique in that it is the only one of our 60 lookouts embedded within an operational HM Coastguard station. And we’re delighted that today’s guests include HM Coastguard representatives whose collaboration created NCI Bembridge.”