A FUNDRAISING appeal launched to keep a Hampshire ferry service afloat has raised more than £12,000 - far exceeding its original target.

Blue Funnel Ferries, which operates the Hythe to Southampton route, devised a Crowdfunding campaign after it was forced to suspend sailings as a result of the lockdown.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the campaign proved so successful that the company doubled its initial target of £5,000.

Cash continued to pour in and the fundraising goal was raised from £10,000 to £12,000. Now the third target has also been beaten, with the latest total standing at £12,695.

Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has already agreed to match-fund the first £5,000.

Some of the money raised by the campaign will go towards the cost of repairing Hythe Pier and the electric train which takes passengers to and from the ferry.

A statement on the ferry's Crowdfunding page says the timber beneath the railway line along the pier will have to be replaced before new rails can be laid.

It adds: "The cost of the planking could run into hundreds of thousands as it hasn't been changed for over 40 years, if not longer. Any assistance in purchasing the wood will always be gratefully received.

"We are part of history and the community and with your help, we can stay here for another 100+ years."

Blue Funnel has teamed up with members of the Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA), who are determined to restore the structure to its former glory.

HPHA chairman Peter King said: "The Association has been working with Blue Funnel since 2017 in an effort to secure a new future for the Hythe Pier and the Hythe Pier Railway.

"The plans for the restoration of both of these assets are now taking shape and legal agreements between ourselves and Blue Funnel are at an advanced stage.

"With works to restore the railway all set to begin, this national emergency and health crisis could not have come at a worse moment.

"The continuation and development of a vibrant and viable ferry operation is essential to the long-term success of our community project. It would be a disaster if the ferry operator were to fail.

"Without the ferry our pier has no central purpose and without the pier the ferry has no landing place - the two are intrinsically linked."

The Crowdfunding campaign officially ends tomorrow. To donate go online and visit crowdfunder.co.uk/hythe-ferry-and-pier-covid19


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