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Final bid to save Felixstowe’s coast rescue service

PUBLISHED: 13:37 06 August 2015

The Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol and Rescue Service carrying out the rescue on carnival day last month. Photo: Ron Impey.

The Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol and Rescue Service carrying out the rescue on carnival day last month. Photo: Ron Impey.

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A last-ditch effort is being made to save a multi award-winning coastal rescue service after its leader said it would close down this summer amid financial problems.

The Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service has not been operational this season because it cannot raise the cash for fuel to get out on the water.

However, on the resort’s carnival weekend, it did get to sea and proved its worth – rescuing two teenagers who got into difficulty and were just minutes from drowning.

Service chairman John Cresswell said it was with “deepest regret” that the committee had decided to close the service after 19 years.

He said: “This has been an extremely difficult decision to make spanning a two-year period, but has finally been forced upon us mainly by the dire lack of both moral and financial support.”

Over the years the service has saved the lives of 67 people and rescued many more in a variety of incidents.

Problems set in for the service in late 2013 after its team was involved in a serious crash on the A12 as it travelled to help with the floods rescue operation.

But Mr Cresswell said securing enough funding from local authorities had been a major problem, despite figures showing 46 peple had died on the east coast in the last five years and 636 people had been rescued – a figure which does not include those incidents attended by private rescue services.

A new Facebook-based supporters group is now trying to raise enough cash to keep the service going.

Group spokesman Chris Gosling said: “The rescue service needs annual funding of around £18,000 to keep operating, but at this moment in time, it would cost around £8,000 to £10,000 to operate for the rest of 2015, or a lesser amount of emergency funding to let it retain its assets and crew members and rebuilt its funding base with more income from the public, and less dependence on cash-strapped local authorities.”

Crew member Michael Crisp has created a justgiving.com appeal page and in just four days raised £2,000.

The supporters group has also organised two events in the town centre – displays of the rescue boat Volunteer on the Triangle, Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, tomorrow and Friday, August 21, when crew members will be on hand to explain how the service works, and there will be opportunities for people to donate to the fund.

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