STAFF at Minehead Community Hospital have helped get Minehead lifeboat station’s fund-raising year off to a flying start.

They have handed over a cheque for £500 to the RNLI station, where officials are expected to launch an appeal to help pay for a major rebuilding programme later this year.

The money was raised from coffee mornings, raffles and other events at the hospital, where the staff also support the work of the Somerset and Dorset Air Ambulance, St Margaret’s Hospice and local charity CLOWNS.

The cheque was formally presented to Karla Thresher, a member of the hospital staff who last year became the first woman at the Minehead station to become qualified to helm its D class inshore lifeboat.

Last year fund raising, donations and shop sales at the station brought in more than £90,000, with £52,000 alone being raised in six months to pay for a replacement D class boat which is expected to enter service at Minehead in December.

Minehead RNLI chairman, Bryan Stoner, said the hospital’s boost for local fundraising was very timely.

“We expect later in the year to be launching an appeal to help finance a significant building project which is currently in the pipeline,” he said.

“But the donation from the hospital is typical of the magnificent local support we are now getting for the work of the crew and the station and we are immensely grateful to all those who devote time and effort – and give money – to enable our life-saving work to continue.”