New way to help coastal patrol

SPECIAL collection points have been set up for people gathering vouchers to help boost the funds of Felixstowe's volunteer patrol and rescue service.

SPECIAL collection points have been set up for people gathering vouchers to help boost the funds of Felixstowe's volunteer patrol and rescue service.

People shopping at the East of England Co-operative Society's supermarket, Home Store, pharmacy and opticians in Hamilton Road, and using the petrol station in High Road West, can collect a vouchers every time they spend £10 - with the co-op giving 5p for each voucher to the rescue service.

Now people can take their vouchers to collection points at The Evening Star's office opposite the supermarket at 172 Hamilton Road, or to the customer service desk at the Home Store, Hamilton Road.

Miriam Harrup, communications and community manager for the co-op, said: “The voucher scheme has got off to a great start and we know lots of people are collecting them.

“It will certainly be running for the next couple of months and we will let people know in advance when the scheme is coming to an end, so people collecting them in bundles can then drop them off.”

The co-op hopes the scheme will give the patrol service enough funding to ensure it can keep going for the foreseeable future.

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The service has had severe financial problems at times during its 11-year history and has never had a major sponsor.

Service chairman John Cresswell said everyone involved was delighted with the co-op's help.

“It is an amazing gesture and we thank the co-op for their help and also all the customers who are collecting the vouchers,” he said.

“There have been a few times when we have been hanging on a knife edge and hopefully this will give us some security.”

Thanks to initial funding from the society, the service has been able to cover more weekends than usual this year, staying on duty while the weekend weather has been good.

The service has been called to deal with more than 800 incidents over the years, rescuing many sailors, swimmers, windsurfers, youngsters on inflatables, as well as helping with many onshore incidents, giving advice and help to people.

The service costs £15,000 to £20,000 a year to run, including fuel, training and boat maintenance.

Should councils give more of taxpayers' money to keep the Felixstowe rescue service going? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk