A DONATION from ExxonMobil has enabled Hythe Sea Scouts to hit their £80,000 fundraising target to build sea defences to stop their clubhouse being washed away.
The group launched an appeal in 2016 after dramatic foreshore erosion put its building on Shore Road at risk of becoming unusable due to the threat of floods and storms.
The building, which is next to Hythe Yacht Club, was built in 1976 on land offered by New Forest District Council.
The money has been raised through donations from local community groups and businesses, as well as the group hosting events including quiz evenings, sponsored bike rides and bag packing in local supermarkets.
The most recent donation of £3,000 from ExxonMobil has taken the total given to the cause by the firm to £9,250.
Chairman of the sea scouts’ fundraising committee, Chris Godfrey, told the A&T: “We’ve finally done it. Thank you to the local community, businesses, cubs, scouts, explorers, parents and helpers who have supported us to get here. We are truly overwhelmed.
“Without the donation from ExxonMobil we would not have been able to reach our total as soon as we did.
“The overall figure was incredibly daunting, so for ExxonMobil to have helped with more than 10% of it has been a huge boost.”
He added: “We were really worried about what could happen – one big storm and it would have caused so much damage. Now the whole group is buzzing.”
Work began on the new sea defences last summer, with more than half of the fundraising target spent on phase one of the project. This included installing a 50-metre reinforced oak revetment and replacing the site’s security fence.
Cubs also took part in a hedge planting exercise along the perimeter fence to provide further protection from the elements.
Chris said: “Now we have the necessary funds, we are currently putting plans in place to be able to complete phase two.
“This means placing very large rocks or boulders in front of the oak revetment to break up the powerful action of the waves.
“We are also reviewing the original sea defences, protecting the other areas of our site. These were installed 25 years ago and need to be revamped and secured for the next 25 years.”
He added: “We have saved the site from the imminent threat of foreshore erosion, but we will need to work hard to keep it that way. The job is not finished yet and there is still a lot to do.”
To mark the milestone, ExxonMobil’s refinery manager Simon Downing was invited to the sea scouts’ headquarters to see the work and hear about future plans.
He said: “It’s incredibly important that young people get opportunities to try new activities. We are fortunate to live in a wonderful part of the world, so to see youngsters outside enjoying nature’s elements is fantastic.
“The practical and social skills they learn by being part of a group like the sea scouts will be of benefit to them all their lives.
“We were very pleased to have played our part in helping ensure the survival of the base and hope that the youngsters, parents and volunteers have many more happy years here.”
Hythe Sea Scouts group is one of only 50 in the country to be officially recognised by the Royal Navy, and is subject to regular inspections to ensure teaching and training is carried out accordingly.
Due to the age of the building, the group plans to continue fundraising to enable changing room facilities to be refurbished and the roof to be replaced.