LOCH Lomond Rescue boat members have been boasted by a five-figure funding announcement which will keep them afloat- and help save lives.

The group is one of numerous water rescue charities from around the UK to receive a share of £1m in funding for vital rescue equipment to help keep the UK’s rivers and seas safe.

The money has been made available by the inshore and inland rescue boat grant fund and is the fourth round of funding under this five-year, £5 million scheme.

Locally, they receive £18,607.60 to help them carry on their vital work.

James N Macrae, vice chairman and treasurer at Loch Lomond Rescue Boat, said: “This is the fourth year of a five-year Department for Transport programme of grants for Inshore and Inland Rescue Boats, with approximately £1 million available each year across the UK.

“We were delighted to hear the news a few days ago that we had been awarded £18,607.60 from the fund.

“This represents 90 per cent of the estimated cost of replacing our twin 150hp outboard engines (less trade-in of our existing engines), plus a new lightweight stretcher for casualty evacuation.

“Our present engines are approaching six years- old, and have seen a lot of service.

“Engine reliability is essential for swift response to incidents, and a light compact stretcher is a really useful bit of kit, especially for West Highland Way rescues, where we sometimes have to extract injured people in very rough terrain."

Maritime Minister John Hayes said: "Every day water rescue volunteers risk their safety to protect the lives of people across the UK.

"Their dedication and highly specialised skills are absolutely crucial to providing inshore and inland rescue services.

"This extra money means that the volunteers and charities can purchase the lifeboats and equipment they need.

"It means that assistance is never far away for those in need or in distress on or around our waterways."

Since its launch in 2014, the grant has provided water rescue services up and down the UK with funding for new boats, vehicles and equipment.

A total of 62 organisations will receive a share of the £1m funding for 2017-18 after their bids were considered by an expert panel.

Chaired by the Department for Transport and made up of representatives from DfT, DEFRA, devolved administrations, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, RNLI and the Royal Yachting Association, the panel assessed bids taking into account:

How the equipment listed supports or enhances the organisation’s rescue capability

Evidence that the items funded represent good value for money

Applicants were also required to match fund 10 per cent of the costs of funded items, and to provide a letter of support from the authority that tasks them to rescues.

Sir Alan Massey, chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: "These smaller, independent charities are the lifeblood of our communities, playing a vital role in supporting the daily lives of thousands of people across the UK.

"We often need to remind ourselves that these brave women and men may be called at any time of the day or night to assist persons in difficulty.

"Those persons may be lost or injured, in trouble at sea, or needing to be rescued from fast-flowing water or floods.

"It’s essential that funding like this is available to independent lifeboats so that they have the proper emergency equipment to aid in rescues. This funding will help meet their goals and ease their financial burden."

Mr Macrae added: "We have always tried to keep our crew equipped with serviceable and up to date kit, plus of course a thoroughly reliable boat, being the least one can do for people who give up a lot of their time, and put up with severe inconvenience, and frequently great discomfort and danger, for no reward other than the satisfaction of providing a vital service to the community.

"We are really grateful to the Department for Transport for this grant scheme, from which we have benefitted with lesser sums in the past two years.

"It is a recognition that all over the UK thousands of volunteers provide a rescue network, which normally is financed only by public donation and fund-raising."