Gafirs lifeboat team is given a cash boost to help it save lives in the Solent

VOLUNTEER search and rescue teams in the  south east are among dozens of charities across the UK which will benefit from £1m in government funding to allow them to buy the equipment they need to save lives.

Sunday, 23rd December 2018, 11:54 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:45 am
The Gafirs inshore lifeboat Picture: Sarah Standing

The Department for Transport revealed yesterday the 57 successful bids for the latest round of the Rescue Boat Grant Fund which included Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service.

The Gafirs team based at Stokes Bay received nearly £7,000 which will go towards equipment including a two-way responder pager, pager protective cases and the setting up of a web portal.

Chair Keith Thomas said: '˜We are absolutely delighted to receive this grant from the government and we will be able to buy a new pager system which gives us the facility for crews to confirm they are attending a call out and then we can better prepare our response at the base.' 

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The Gafirs inshore lifeboat Picture: Sarah Standing

Overall 10 charities in the south east will receive a total of £129,276.

Keith added: '˜As a small independent charity we have to work hard for our funding and although we are well supported by our community it is extremely helpful to get this extra money and also the recognition from the government on the work we do for our local area.'

Over the previous four rounds of the scheme, which was launched in 2014,  201 bids have been successful and helped a total of 98 volunteer search and rescue teams across the country.

The money has already paid for 65 new boats in addition to launch vehicles, rafts, safety gear, and other costs to support rescue teams.

An exercise which saw six people pretend to be severely hurt following a boating accident at Stokes Bay put Gafirs rescuers through their paces .

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said: '˜Our rescue boat teams are the unsung heroes of the UK's waterways.

'˜Their commitment and skill keeps people safe on and around our rivers, lakes and inshore areas.

'˜Lives have been saved as a result of this scheme and our additional funding will ensure that these tireless volunteers and charities can buy the craft, equipment, and other resources they need to provide vital round-the-clock services.'

The bids for the latest round of funding were considered by an expert panel, chaired by officials and including representatives from DEFRA and the devolved administrations as well as expert advisers from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, RNLI and the Royal Yachting Association.