A CROWDFUNDING campaign has been launched in a bid to save the Hythe Ferry after the operator revealed it had run out of money.

Hythe resident Ashleigh Mutimear has embarked on a quest to raise at least £60,000 for the service, which normally operates between Hythe Pier and Town Quay.

Sailings have been suspended for two months, with Tier 4 restrictions being followed by the latest lockdown.

Ashleigh's Crowdfunding page says: "The Hythe Ferry is no longer 'in danger'. It will close for good in the next few months unless we help.

"The ferry has not been running since Christmas Eve 2020.

"They have nothing left to get going again. So far they have been turned down for all available government grants.

"The local community and lovers of the ferry need to show support and stop us losing such a special piece of our history."

As reported in the Daily Echo, coronavirus restrictions and a corresponding drop in passenger numbers have left Blue Funnel Ferries facing a cash crisis.

The virus - and other problems - have resulted in the service making a loss of more than £190,000 over the past 18 months.

Ashleigh, 35, of Butts Ash, said: "As kids we'd always hang around in Hythe and I used the ferry a lot. I relied on it to commute to and from school and we would all go over to town as kids.

"I've continued to use the ferry my whole life and do so as much as possible - I just love it.

"I love being on the water, I love seeing our little village, and I love how easy it is to get to and from Southampton without any traffic.

"I sold my car last year and used my bike and the ferry to commute to work for the last part of 2020.

"I'm so keen to save the ferry that I've set up a Crowdfunder. I'm slowly building a team of people who, just like me, don’t want to lose such a special part of Hythe."

Last year Hampshire County Council and two other local authorities gave the service a total of £45,000 in a bid to keep it afloat.

Cllr Keith Mans, leader of the county council, said: "We are currently in discussion with Southampton City Council and New Forest District Council as to how we can continue to help the ferry over the coming months."

To donate visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/savethehytheferry