NEW CCTV cameras will ensure that eyes will always be on the sea looking out for people in distress and saving lives around the coastline.

The Canvey and Southend coastline is one of the busiest areas in the UK for RNLI sea rescues.

The cameras, made possible by grants totalling £3,6000 from Essex Freemasons, will provide crews a vital tool to assist volunteers on the ground.

“Because of the tidal situation which can catch out unwary visitors and the large numbers who enjoy being on the sea the coastguard record more incidents around the Canvey and Southend area establishing the Southend RNLI Station as the busiest in the country,” Grahame Harris, station manager at the Canvey HQ, explained.

“This is why we needed to install CCTV to ensure that we always had eyes out to sea to provide a record of incidents and ensure that rescue teams can reach those in distress as quickly as possible. This is why the money from Essex Freemasons will make such a difference.”

Canvey councillor Barry Campagna, has welcomed the generous donations which made the new cameras possible.

He said: “Any equipment like that is a great help obviously to the teams and will help them save lives.

Cllr Campangna, who is also head of Canvey Bay Watch, added: “I just hope the coastguard base at Canvey Island Yacht Club doesn’t run in to the problems they had when they were down in Holehaven.”

The coastguard moved bases following a series of incidents in 2020 which saw volunteers subjected to abuse, intimidation, threats of violence and in one instance, were even spat at by gangs of youths, on a daily basis.

Cllr Campagna continued: “They had gangs of teenagers causing them problems in Holehaven, but hopefully now in their new base they can get on with the job at hand.”

Now settled at their new base at Canvey Island Yacht Club, crews have been able to focus on the task at hand away from harassment and threats of violence.

And crews are thankful for the new camera system, which will help save lives at sea.

The £3,600 needed to fund the CCTV was made up from donations from Essex Freemasons St. Katharines Chapter which meets at Rochford, a direct grant from the Essex Freemasons Community Fund and additional donations from St. Katharine’s Lodge and from Counos Lodge which meets at Southend.

“One of the members of St. Katharine’s Lodge, Bill Blissett, is a volunteer at coastwatch, Canvey,” said Keith Frost, charity steward for St Katharines Chapter. “He told us of the need to raise money to pay for new CCTV equipment and once we knew how it would be used, our members were pleased to authorise a donation.”