Paddlers and swimmers raise £24K towards coastal flood defence upgrade

Swimmers setting off from Aldeburgh Yacht Club Picture: Gill Moon

Swimmers setting off from Aldeburgh Yacht Club Picture: Gill Moon - Credit: Archant

Flotilla event organised by The Alde & Ore Estuary Trust as part of its Save Our Suffolk Estuary campaign.

Nick Robinson with George Rudland, the faster swimmer in the elite swimming group Pic: CWH Media

Nick Robinson with George Rudland, the faster swimmer in the elite swimming group Pic: CWH Media - Credit: Archant

More than 100 people took to the water at the weekend and raised £24,000 towards a multi-million pound scheme to upgrade flood defences on the Suffolk coast.

Participants swam or paddled seven kilometres from Aldeburgh Yacht Club to Orford Sailing Club with the support from safety boats and the RNLI. First to complete the course was paddler Edward Greenwell, with George Rudland and Gemma Cannon being the fastest male and female swimmers, respectively.

BBC journalist Nick Robinson, who owns a home in Orford, was at the finish line to congratulate participants as they completed the course.

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Event director, Mark Nicholls, said: "We were absolutely delighted to have the support of so many swimmers and paddlers.

"Our team of hardworking volunteers, together with the generous sponsorship from local businesses, ensured there was a wonderful atmosphere throughout the flotilla and 100% of the donations received will be used along the river walls.

River Alde at Aldeburgh Picture: Mike Page

River Alde at Aldeburgh Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Archant

"With the match funding, we are thrilled £24,000 has been raised to help protect our beautiful estuary".

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Funds raised by The Alde & Ore Estuary Trust will be used to support the upgrade of vital flood defences of the River Alde & Ore to protect the area's businesses, homes and landscape from floods such as those of 1953 which devastated the area and the 2013 storm surge which breached the Hazelwood Marsh, west of Aldeburgh.

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The charity says a costed programme of works by the East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board shows £26.9 million is needed to upgrade the river defences throughout the Alde & Ore Estuary over the next decade. Almost half - £12m - will have to be raised through voluntary donations from the local community, applications to charitable foundations and the support received from local businesses.

Chair of the funding group, Jane Maxim, said: "After the success of this, our first flotilla, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus to make it an annual fundraiser for the Save Our Suffolk Estuary campaign. We are enormously grateful for everyone's support".

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