Cash crisis puts rescuers on rocks

felixstowe: A rescue team which patrols the coast could fold in a month’s time unless it gets a cash injection.

The Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service says it is running out of money and desperately needs a major sponsor to help keep it going.

Last year the service – which is often tasked by Thames Coastguard to deal with emergencies – had a 50 per cent increase in its workload and helped 135 people caught up in accidents and incidents on the waves.

It is expecting this summer to be just as busy – especially if more people to choose to holiday or have days out in Suffolk instead of going abroad.

Last year the patrol service received a vital �6,100 donation from the East of England Co-operative Society after supporters collected 120,000 shopping vouchers, but the service was left a little disappointed after it had been hoping the initiative would produce three times as much and secure its immediate future.

“What we really lack and have always lacked since we started 12 years ago is a major sponsor a big annual grant so that we don’t have to worry unduly about our costs,” said chairman John Cresswell.

“It costs �18,000 to �20,000 a year to run the service and if we could just secure half that with a sponsor it would be brilliant because we could cope with raising the rest of the money.

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“As it stands at present, we can probably keep going for a month. That is bitterly disappointing.

“We have recruited some new people to the team over the winter, done our training and got our craft Volunteer ready for the season and have started our weekend duties.”

The service had been hoping last year to replace Volunteer’s engines but cannot afford to. It even has a �5,000 grant offer from Suffolk Coastal but is likely to lose it because it cannot match the sum.

Mr Cresswell said last weekend’s patrols had illustrated exactly why the service was needed.

The team had rescued a jet-skier who was in difficulties at the entrance to the River Deben and a man swimming out to help him.

“This incident could have easily gone wrong had we not spotted them– neither man had any protective clothing and were clad only in T-shirts and shorts,” said Mr Cresswell.

“The water temperature is only 6C at present and you would be unconscious in 30 minutes or less and dead in an hour even if you were wearing protective gear. Both men were extremely lucky.”

Volunteer’s crew also helped a 31ft sloop with six people and a dog on board which had run aground on the Harwich Shelf, and towed two people in an angling boat which had hit engine problems while in the River Orwell back to Woolverstone.

? What do you think of the work of the patrol service? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail