Things ‘not looking good’ as former soldier fights to save home from Storm Darcy

Sam Russell, PA

A former soldier who built DIY defences to protect his clifftop home from falling into the sea said he has lost another 15ft of land during Storm Darcy, with his property now just 50ft from the edge.

Lance Martin, 63, lives in Hemsby, Norfolk, and previously lost almost 100ft of sand dune to the tides during the Beast from the East in 2018.

There were 13 homes in his row, and his is the last one left.

Mr Martin said he hopes to get through the rest of the week’s adverse weather and rearrange 75 two-tonne concrete blocks on the beach below to break the force of the waves.

Former soldier fighting to save home
Lance Martin’s home is precariously close to the cliff edge (Joe Giddens/ PA)

“The tide with the high winds behind it has really done a lot of damage to the dunes,” he said.

“The blocks that I put down there are just about holding up.

“I’ve lost about 15ft of dune.

“I had a green fence down there with warning signs up and that’s disappeared, that’s gone.

“It’s not looking good at the moment.”

Former soldier fighting to save home
Mr Martin’s home is the last remaining from a row of 13 houses (Joe Giddens/ PA)

He said that strong winds are forecast on Friday and Saturday, and he hopes to better his defences as soon as he can, using a digger to rearrange them.

Friends have helped with labour in the past, but Mr Martin said: “That’s a problem at the moment with lockdown and movement restrictions, it’s hard to get that help.”

He went on: “I’m hoping to realign the blocks and put them in a better configuration to try and – not stop the sea because I know I’ll never do that – but break the force of the waves so when they hit the bottom of the dune it’s more of a trickle than a tap running if that makes sense.

“My immediate thoughts are get a digger down here, rearrange the blocks, see the worst of the storm through then reassess after that.

“But I’ve still got the option of what I call Plan Z, which is levelling the plot directly behind my property and trying to slide it (the property) across to there.

“I don’t own (the plot behind) but the landowners have said I could have it but I think there’ll be a cost involved so, as I said, that’s Plan Z.”

Former soldier fighting to save home
Mr Martin is hoping to rearrange his concrete block sea defences to protect his home (Joe Giddens/ PA)

Mr Martin served in the Army in the Grenadier Guards from 1978 to 2000 and said after the Beast from the East: “I think the determination, the guts and everything – the Army has prepared me for worst case scenarios and everything.”

He bought his home for £95,000 cash in 2017 and spent a further £70,000 on improvements after he retired from his security job in London and sold his flat in Dagenham, east London.

He said he could stand on the roof and still not see the sea when he moved in, and was told by a survey to expect one metre of dune loss per year to erosion.

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