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Lifesaving rescue service staying afloat thanks to National Lottery funding

As we approach the busy summer months and long-awaited trips to the coast, understanding the importance of water safety is crucial. Thanks to £10,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, Solent Rescue can continue to provide both land and maritime rescue services in the Western and Central Solent area, including the over half a million visitors to Lepe Country Park each year. 

Solent Rescue was founded in 1971 and has maintained its presence at Lepe Country Park ever since. The charity is run entirely by volunteers who dedicate their time to making a difference in their community by working collaboratively to ensure the waterways are safe for everyone. 

Lee Cooper, 35, from Southampton has been volunteering with Solent Rescue for more than 15 years. He said:“I originally joined when I had some spare time on my hands, and I thought this would be a meaningful use of my time. I enjoy helping people and being part of a close-knit team, this unit has become like my second family over the years.”

The team of volunteers cover Western and Central Solent, an area of approximately 33 square miles. The service which operates at Lepe Country Park helps to look after one of the busiest waterways in Europe. The team aim to ensure public safety and are on station mainly during the peak summer season, whenever the community may need crisis response and emergency assistance.

Explaining the importance of the service, Lifeboat Operations Manager and coxswain, Lee said: “When on station, the lifeboat is afloat from around 8:30am, spending all day out on the water training and responding to incidents. We work alongside our lookout at Lepe Country Park which also provides shoreline land search capability. The service has been a lifeline to people who have gotten into trouble in and around water. 

“One of the big dangers in the area is people getting caught in undercurrents and the tide. Since we are already afloat, we can respond faster to an incident rather than a lifeboat which would need to be launched.”

Solent Rescue is one of 340 charities and community groups across the South East to have been awarded almost £10 million of National Lottery funding over the last three months*.

Looking back at his 15 dedicated years of service, Lee said: “You put a huge number of hours into training and maintaining the vessels, but it takes that one incident of saving someone’s life that makes it all worthwhile.

“This funding from the National Lottery is absolutely vital, without grants like this we wouldn’t be able to operate and with the increase in running costs, we wouldn’t be able to sustain the service. We would like to thank all National Lottery players who help to keep our unit on the water and save people’s lives.”

Over the last three years, funding from The National Lottery Community Fund has reached every constituency and every local authority in the UK.

Helen Bushell, Senior Head of Regional Funding for London, South East and East of England at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this vital funding will have a huge impact on people’s lives across the South East. Our funding plays a big role in helping communities to unleash their potential and it is great to see groups like Solent Rescue making a positive difference and continuing to support people in their communities.”

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes across the UK. In the last 12 months we have given out nearly £600 million to 12,500 organisations reaching every local authority and constituency in the UK. 

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Notes to Editors

* These figures are for funding awarded from 26 February 2022 – 27 May 2022.

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we support people and communities to prosper and thrive. 

We’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to work closely with Government to distribute vital grants and funding from key Government programmes and initiatives. 

Our funding has a positive impact and makes a difference to people’s lives. We support projects focused on things that matter, including economic prosperity, employment, young people, mental health, loneliness and helping the UK reach net zero by 2050. 

Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life. 

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, £43 billion has been raised for good causes. National Lottery funding has been used to support over 635,000 projects - 255 projects per postcode area.

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