Tributes paid after caring volunteer dies

Gosport NCI  Station Manager Richard McMinn
Gosport NCI Station Manager Richard McMinn
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A VOLUNTEER who dedicated a decade to keeping people safe on the water has died at the age of 72.

Richard McMinn, born in 1945, enjoyed a long career in the Ministry of Defence at HM Naval Base in Portsmouth.

Then in 2007 he joined the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) as a volunteer watchkeeper in December 2007.

He was a founding member of the team at Lee-on-the-Solent NCI.

Within a few months he became responsible for setting up and commissioning the Gosport NCI station, overlooking the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.

He and the team were stationed at the redundant naval signal tower high on the wall at Fort Blockhouse.

Mr McMinn led a major clean-up operation with a small band of volunteers ahead of it opening operationally on June 1, 2008.

From that small beginning, Mr McMinn has left a legacy of a seven-day a week operation of volunteers watching the inshore waters.

Mr McMinn led the way to establish other NCI stations, finding the observation 
deck of the Calshot Radar Tower on Southampton water and use of a site overlooking The Needles on the Isle of Wight.

Colleagues knew Mr McMinn as a laid-back and knowledgeable leader, who moulded the watch-keeping team into valued members of the search and rescue service.

Around two years before his death, he was forced to stand down as station manager because of illness.

In the months before his death in March he continued at NCI, with the roles of station welfare officer, health and safety officer, maintenance officer and assistant training officer.

David Russell from NCI Gosport said: ‘Such dedication, even to a charitable cause, is almost without precedent and an enormous debt of gratitude is owed to a man who gave so much for the benefit of others in the local seafaring community.’