A HAMPSHIRE ferry operator hit by the lockdown has launched a Crowdfunding campaign in a bid to keep the service afloat.

Hythe Ferry, already rocked by the decision to axe a vital county council grant, ceased operating last month because of problems caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the service was suspended on April 18 after the number of passengers plummeted to just 15 a day.

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Now Blue Funnel Ferries, which runs the service, has turned to the public for help.

A message on its Crowdfunding page says: "We are part of the community and want to keep this service running. Don't let Covid-19 be the end."

Appealing for donations Lee Rayment, the company's owner and director, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has created a very uncertain landscape for millions of small businesses and we at the Hythe Ferry are no exception.

"Passenger boats and ferry companies, unlike buses and trains, are currently receiving little or no support from the government to keep these services operating.

"It is times like these that make it very challenging for businesses to survive without much-needed community support."

Like other companies hit by the lockdown Blue Funnel Ferries still has bills to pay, despite having no income.

Its main vessel must undergo its annual refit to meet Maritime and Coastguard Agency regulations and the electric train which takes passengers along Hythe Pier is in "desperate" need of repairs.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Blue Funnel Ferries has set itself a target of £5,000 and has already raised £2,163.

Mr Rayment said: "We know many of you use our services for work, for day trips and to get around the local area.

"Everyone is being affected in some form by these unprecedented times, but when they finally finish the last thing we want is not to have the freedom to travel across Southampton Water in a manner that can be so beautiful and peaceful.

"It is only with your direct help that we will keep this key part of the community going.

"Once the pandemic is over the Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA) will be back continuing with their restorations and renovations.

"Together we can help keep Hythe Ferry operating in the community for years to come and help keep history alive."