A CHARITY which wants to help keep York's rivers safe has been given a huge boost from a local company.

The York Rescue Boat, which was set up by Dave Benson, is trying to raise £35,000 to provide a boat which would patrol the rivers on busy nights in York, and would be run by volunteers.

The group has already raised more than £4,000, and has this week been given exclusive use of a top of the range Land Rover 110 Utility by Armstrong Massey, which will be used first to raise awareness at fundraising events, and later to transport the boat as needed.

Dave Benson said: "We are really grateful for it. It will be a great asset to York Rescue Boat, and will initially be used for awareness and fundraising until we can get a boat and roll out as a frontline search and rescue patrol service.

"It will also be used to assist communities during flooding. We will have a flood assistance dinghy. We're never going to replace any of the existing services, just complement them and bolster what's out there at the moment and aid the community that bit more."

Peter Billham, dealer principal at Armstrong Massey on Tadcaster Road, which has provided the Land Rover, said the vehicle had room for five people, a stretcher, and all the emergency equipment the team could need once the rescue boat was up and running.

He said: "It's a local need and will help the city a lot. It's such a great cause, and this vehicle can get in most places. York can flood and the vehicle needs to get around, and whatever the situation is, this would be one of the best ways to do that job.

"All we hope is it can help save one life. If it saves one life, that's what's important. If we can do something that helps prevent any more deaths in the river, it's worthwhile."

Jackie Roberts, whose 20-year-old daughter Megan died in the Ouse earlier this year, is a supporter of York Rescue Boat, and welcomed the news.

She said: "I think it's fantastic that the charity has been getting support from a local business, it's great news."

Dave added: "I set the charity up with the aim of helping people who go into the river and trying to raise awareness and help. But it's a community service. That is what we're here for and if the authorities want to get on board, that would be great. We want to boost their services, not tread on anyone's toes, just provide a community service."

For more information on the rescue boat, go to yorkrescueboat.com