A CAMPAIGN to save the Hythe Ferry has already raised almost £12,000 - 20% of its target.

Hundreds of people have supported a Crowdfunding page launched three weeks ago after Blue Funnel Ferries announced it had run out of money.

Campaigners have embarked on a quest to raise £60,000 - enough to pay for the ferry's annual refit.

The fundraising drive is being led by Ashleigh Mutimear, 35, of Butts Ash, Hythe, who has been using the ferry since she was a child.

Ashleigh said: "I launched the Crowdfunding page on February 22 and the community’s generosity has blown me away.

"The ferry has been such a big part of all of our lives and it’s great to see everyone coming together to help save it.

"The campaign will not succeed with the support of the local community alone. We need local government, the UK government, local businesses and communities both here and across the water to get involved.

"The ferry, pier and train must be supported to ensure it’s around for generations to come."

Hythe historian and author Alan Titheridge added: "Four years ago Lee Rayment and his Blue Funnel Ferries were there when Hythe needed him. This is a way for us as a community to be there for him.

"The ferry is not as well supported as it was in days gone by but before the restrictions, passenger numbers were actually rising.

"In 2019 210,000 journeys were made. The ferry is still very much an integral part of our local transport network and must not be lost.

"There has been a ferry across Southampton Water for centuries and it's still a way of life for many.

"If lost, we would inevitably see a rise in traffic on an already-congested A326, further worsening Southampton’s air quality. We would also likely see a huge effect on the local economy with tourists and cruise passengers losing their direct access to Hythe and the New Forest."

To donate go online and visit crowdfunder.co.uk/savethehytheferry.