A GROUP of fundraisers are preparing to spend 24 hours walking up and down Hythe Pier in a bid to save a vital transport link.

Ashleigh Mutimear is spearheading an attempt to raise at least £60,000 for the Hythe Ferry, which has been hit by the economic impact of the Covid crisis.

Ashleigh and her supporters are about to embark on what they describe as their biggest challenge yet.

The Walk the Pier event is due to start at 11am today, with individual walkers joining the event at specific times over the following 24 hours.

Today will also see a family fun day at the Lord Nelson pub, which is only a few yards from the entrance to the 700-yard pier.

That will be followed by an open day on the structure on Monday and a fundraising event at nearby Dibden Golf Centre on May 30.

Leighton O'Hara, of the Lord Nelson, said: "It will be great to see as many people out supporting Ashleigh throughout her expedition and I’m sure everyone will dig deep to contribute to such a worthy cause.

"At the Nelson we will have collections throughout the day and hope to have entertainment throughout Saturday and Sunday.

"We will be open from 9am Sunday so people can grab coffees and enjoy watching Ashleigh reach the climax of this amazing feat."

Visitors to the pier on Monday will be joined by children's author Simon Chadwick, who will be signing copies of his new book.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Simon was approached about the possibility of publishing a story in aid of the service.

He had already written and illustrated a trail for Hythe Library called A Seal Swam In From The Sea. The heart-warming tale has now been updated and turned into a book in an attempt to raise £10,000 for the ferry.

The service between Hythe Pier and Town Quay, Southampton, is facing a cash crisis caused by the pandemic, which has resulted in a huge fall in passenger numbers.

The vessel is not currently running and no date has been set for its return.

Hampshire County Council, New Forest District Council and Southampton City Council have given grants totalling £22,000, but more money is needed.