Future of crew hinges on funding

FELIXSTOWE'S volunteer sea patrol and rescue service could go out of operation unless lottery funding is secured.The crew, which operates from Felixstowe beach, has helped more than 700 people in the past eight years but they fear last summer may have been their last.

FELIXSTOWE'S volunteer sea patrol and rescue service could go out of operation unless lottery funding is secured.

The crew, which operates from Felixstowe beach, has helped more than 700 people in the past eight years but they fear last summer may have been their last.

The service, a vital part of the resort's rescue network, has huge financial problems following a series of big expenses and cannot even afford to pay its legal licences or mooring fees.

John Cresswell, chairman of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service, said whatever money the group managed to raise towards its running costs - through sponsorship or grant aid - it would still need to buy two new engines for its craft Volunteer.

Suzuki Marine UK had agreed to supply the units for the same price as in 2000 when the boat was launched.

Mr Cresswell said: “It is imperative that we receive the lottery grant of £7,000 for which we have applied in order to replace our engines.

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“To date we have only been advised by the lotteries board that our application is being processed and no more.

“A great deal of effort has and is being made on our part to attract further sponsorship, although unfortunately to date to no avail.”

Felixstowe Town Council has agreed a £1,500 grant for the marine insurance and £5m public liability insurance cover. The service is waiting to see if Suffolk Coastal will also provide some funding.

It costs nearly £12,000 a year to run the service - around £200 a day for an eight-hour shift to look after Felixstowe seafront, Orwell and Deben rivers and Harwich harbour approaches, as well as dealing with incidents when tasked by the Coastguard.

Mr Cresswell said finding a major sponsor for the service would secure its future.

He is worried if money is not found soon interest will wane, current supporters find other deserving causes, and the specialist life saving equipment, including Volunteer, will degrade through standing idle.

Since 1997, the service has attended 454 incidents and helped 740 people. Last summer it attended 29 incidents - ten tasked by the Coastguard - on 37 days of operation, covering 2,870 miles, and helping 47 people.

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