Veterans

Former Soldier's Sleepless Night As More Of His Garden Falls Into Sea

Veteran Lance Martin's property now stands dangerously close to the sea after continued erosion of the coastline's cliff edge.

A former soldier said he had a sleepless night as more of his garden fell into the sea on Easter Sunday.

Lance Martin's property in Hemsby, Norfolk, is now no more than 20ft (6m) from the cliff edge as the land surrounding it continues to suffer rapid coastal erosion.

Mr Martin, 63, who served with the Grenadier Guards from 1978 to 2000, bought the house for £95,000 in 2017.

At the time, he says, he could stand on the roof and still not see the sea, and was told by a survey to expect 3ft (1m) of dune loss a year.

However, Mr Martin said he lost almost 100ft (30m) of sand dune during the Beast from the East in 2018 and with more going on Easter Sunday, his home is now perilously close to the edge with the drop even sheerer.

He estimates that he lost up to 20ft (6m) from the bottom of the dune and more than 6ft (2m) from the top, with his back door now no more than 20ft (6m) from the cliff edge.

He said: "Because I could actually see what was going on it stressed me out a lot more.

"Normally I'm a sound sleeper but I think I got about 10 minutes sleep on that night."

He continued: "The waves were huge – they were crashing down into the base of the dunes.

"I rushed across the road to my friend’s house and asked him to come and assist me to take the fence down and move the shed.

"It was dropping constantly that day. 

Lance Martin's property is now very close to falling into the sea (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).

"The waves nibble at the base of the dune and you don't really see how far it's cut in as you're looking down on it, then all of a sudden part of the dune will just drop away.

"You don't get any warning, no noise or anything," he added.

In an effort to give himself more peace of mind, Mr Martin has set up a solar light on a piece of plastic pipe put into the top of the dune.

"I can sit on my sofa at night-time, look through the window and see that light shining," he said.

"I know that if the light's not shining the dune's collapsed even more, and that'll give me a warning that something's going on."

Originally there were 13 homes in the row, but his is now the last one left.

Mr Martin said the local lifeboat crew has offered to help him rearrange his 75 two-tonne concrete block sea defences, which are intended to break the force of the waves but have become buried by the sand.

He also wants to make the dune "terraced", with a shallower angle to the beach, and appealed for any heavy plant operators with "spare time and spare machinery to come down and give us a hand".

However, if all else fails he says he does have a "plan Z", which is to drag the entire property to a vacant plot across the road.

"I've kind of made a stand here that I intend to keep on going as long as physically and mentally possible."

Mr Martin moved to the coast after he retired from his security job in London.

Cover image: Lance Martin in front of his property in Norfolk (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).