Residents have rallied to raise nearly £3,000 in support of a volunteer lifesaver’s efforts to keep people safe on Sidmouth beach.
The community crowdfunding campaign was set up to boost the lifeguard service Guy Russell and his colleagues at Jurassic Paddle Sports provide the town out of goodwill.
An appreciation party was held on the pebbles on Saturday, when the sterling sum was handed over. It will be spent on equipment, training, more lifeguards, information and advice.
Guy, aged 36, said the get-together ‘celebrated the power of a positive community’ and issued a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all those who contributed.
“I am completely blown away and totally humbled,” he added.
The beach-based Jurassic Paddle Sports team double as volunteer lifeguards during their working day – completely free-of-charge.
A crowdfunder was set up by the community in July to support of Guy’s voluntary efforts after his business was targeted by burglars.
Guy said: “So many awesome people have stepped up and given something and, when you add it all up, it will make Sidmouth beach a much safer place.
“You have enabled me and my amazing team to do what we do to an even higher standard and made us so very proud to do so.
“I can’t thank everyone individually, but I hope you know how much I appreciate it.
“This whole project is so much more than financial; it’s about pride, sense of worth, community, passion and, most of all, keeping people safe and showing them the more enjoyable side of life.
“I will make you all a genuine promise; I will endeavour to make Sidmouth beach as safe as possible with better kit, more training, more lifeguards, better advice and daily updates.”
Guy is working with Sidmouth Lifeboat and the town and district councils on providing an official lifeguard service at the beach – but this will not become a reality until next year.
Saturday’s appreciation party saw families enjoy games, music and food donated by SJB Foods of Colaton Raleigh.
Charlie Williams, who set up the ‘Help Jurassic Paddle Sports Keep Our Beaches Safe’ bid, said the day was a ‘great success’ after a ‘phenomenal’ response to the fundraising campaign.
“The final figure raised is just over £2,800; the Sidmouth community has really done an amazing job raising such vital funds for the safety of the beach,” he added.
Leftover food from the party has been donated to the Sid Valley Food Bank.
Guy has been a Sidmouth Lifeboat crew member for 12 years and a lifeguard for two decades. He and three of his colleagues are fully-trained lifeguards and first-aiders.