Campaigners walk to help save threatened Hythe Ferry

Image caption,
Supporters cheered as Sonny Wilson and Ashleigh Mutimear completed their walk on the pier

Efforts to save a ferry service on Southampton Water have been boosted by a fundraising walk along its pier.

The Hythe Ferry linking the Waterside and Southampton has been suspended since December.

Its owners have said they cannot afford to resume crossings as coronavirus restrictions ease. It has already received grants from local councils.

Fundraiser Ashleigh Mutimear who walked 45 miles (72km) up and down Hythe Pier said the ferry was a "lifeline".

Fellow campaigner Sonny Wilson also walked lengths of the 640m (2,000ft) pier throughout Saturday and Sunday to bolster a crowdfunding total which currently stands at more than £15,000.

The ferry is currently undergoing a refit on the Isle of Wight.

In February operator Blue Funnel Ferries said it had "nothing left to get going again" because of the impact of lockdowns and low passenger numbers.

Image source, Blue Funnel
Image caption,
The Hythe Ferry runs between the Hampshire market town and Southampton's Town Quay

It has since received bailout funding from Southampton City, New Forest District and Hampshire County councils.

Director Lee Rayment said: "This fundraising is so important. We need the money to get it up and running to start the service and get it operational.

"But in addition we need the awareness that when it's up and running people will come and use the ferry."

Ms Mutimear said: "It's a lifeline for so many to get into the city.

"It's really important we keep our ferry and it's even more important that we use it and keep it for future generations."

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