CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating victory in their battle to prevent the Hythe Ferry being sunk by the economic impact of the Covid crisis.

A Crowdfunding initiative launched by Hythe resident Ashleigh Mutimear has raised more than £37,000 since it was launched in February.

That together, with cash donated by local authorities, has lifted the threat of closure that had been hanging over the ferry.

But people living on both sides of Southampton Water are being urged to use the service to ensure it stays afloat.

Announcing the fundraising victory on social media Ashleigh said: "I am so overwhelmed.

"I can confirm that the Crowdfund page has hit the target of £37,500. What a huge achievement by each and every one of you that have supported, donated and fundraised along the way.

"I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am so deeply grateful for everyone that got behind the campaign.

"Together we have made something very special happen. We have saved our ferry.

"To me, this was never just a ferry service. This is history, this is Hythe, this is US and from the bottom of my heart I thank you.

"Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for backing me and thank you for believing in our community spirit.

"It is now more important than ever that we use this service. If we don’t use it, we will lose it."

In a separate post Blue Funnel Ferries, which operates the service, said: "Great announcement from Ashleigh Mutimear. She has been a true legend in helping the ferry have a future.

"Thanks to all those other individuals and businesses who continue to support us."

In a message to passengers it added: "Please keep using the ferry as that's what will keep us going. Hope to see you all soon."

Ashleigh launched the Crowdfunding campaign after Blue Funnel Ferries, starved of income as a result of coronavirus restrictions, announced it had run out of money.

She and her supporters staged a raft of money-spinning events, including a 24-hour Walk the Pier challenge.

Ashleigh set out to raise £60,000 but was able to revise her target after Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council and New Forest District Council gave the ferry service a total of £67,500.