The North East coast has a strong history of volunteering. In 1864 Tynemouth became the first place in the UK to launch a volunteer sea rescue team. Following this example, Volunteer Life Brigades were created in coastal towns up and down the country.
Today just three remain and all are on the North East coast in Tynemouth, Sunderland and South Shields.
To mark the 150th anniversary of Life Brigades, volunteers at each location have been helping to conserve and celebrate their history and attract new recruits to sea rescue teams, thanks to HLF grants.
Meanwhile on land in Durham and Northumberland, more than 500 volunteers are helping to revive natural environments and reconnect communities with their coastlines through a series of HLF-supported projects.
How volunteers are protecting coastal heritage
- Launching a coast watch scheme with Northumbrian Police to tackle antisocial behaviour and encourage a sense of pride in where they live
- Cleaning up the coast by litter picking, refreshing signs and making repairs to damaged landmarks
- Encouraging new wildlife and planting new trees
- Developing skills for the future through a Young Rangers scheme, John Muir Challenge, workshops for schools and conservation training
Projects are being led by Durham Heritage Coast, Northumberland Coast AONB, South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade and Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade.
Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said: “As well as some outstanding natural heritage, our coasts have an incredible social story to tell. Communities are a key part of that story so we’re delighted to support projects such as these which have the enthusiasm and hard work of local volunteers at their core.
"Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, these projects will create a legacy of skilled and passionate guardians of our coastal heritage.”