Felixstowe: Rescue service forced to quit

Despite saving five lives this spring, a respected rescue service is being forced off the waves through lack of cash.

Apart from a donation from the town council, Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service gets no official help and has to rely on fundraising, even though it is tasked to attend incidents by Thames Coastguard and is used as a police boat.

Service chairman John Cresswell said a deal with a major sponsor to keep the service running this summer had fallen through.

“This financial situation we are now in was totally unforeseeable as last year we were assured by a would-be sponsor that our immediate future was secure,” he said.

“That is why we were able to use money accrued to go ahead with our rescue craft Volunteer’s major ten-year refit, including her new engines and have sufficient funds remaining to cover insurance and start the 2011 season’s patrols.

“It came as a shock when the plug was pulled on the promised sponsorship.

“Although small amounts of money are trickling in, this is not enough to pay our fuel bills, which are currently about �100 per day for an eight-hour patrol of our 60-mile patrol sector.”

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Mr Cresswell said the sector has more than 20,000 registered recreational craft and if each one paid �1, or even 50p, towards the rescue service’s costs, it would more than cover each season.

“It is an exceptionally busy area. We have had one of our busiest starts to the season and it is a great shame that we are having to stop,” he said.

“If a life is lost because we are not there, I will be devastated.”

Volunteer will be mothballed after the weekend until more money can be raised to pay for fuel.

Mr Cresswell said the service had been credited with saving five lives since it launched at Easter, including a father and his three young sons after they got into difficulties on the River Orwell.

The crew had attended nine serious incidents involving 30 people and 17 minor incidents.

Should the patrol and rescue service be publicly funded? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk