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Coastguard plea hits our screens
3:00pm Thursday 27th September 2012 in News
PEOPLE rescued by the Portland Coastguard helicopter are being asked to appear in a short film.
The film is aimed to drive a campaign to save the service by featuring people who owe their lives to the search and rescue crew.
It is the brainchild of former aircrew safety and survival officer Roger MacphersonRoger Macpherson who will help produce the film along with students at Weymouth College.
Organisers are appealing for those who have benefited from the helicopter to be on camera or have their names flash up on screen.
Mr Macpherson, who is retired, said: “The project is intended to enhance the campaign to change the government decision to close the search and rescue base at Portland.
“It is hoped that it can be screened on local TV with a song being aired on radio stations. It is about saving the helicopter and showing the community and the rest of the nation how important it is.”
He added that he will keep campaign organisers updated with the progress of the film.
Tim Abberley, programme leader in higher education media at Weymouth College, said the project would allow his students to engage with the local community.
He added: “Such a cause is important as it offers an opportunity to engage my students, many of whom are not local, in an emotive and potentially political issue which they have a duty to represent responsibly in their chosen media.
“It is also an opportunity to involve students with the local community rather than producing work which merely fulfils a lecturer’s brief.”
Singer and songwriter Selina Hunter, 23, of Boscombe, was approached by Mr Macpherson after he heard some of her music online.
She said: “I am really glad to be involved. It is for a worthy campaign.
“We want people to come forward to be in the video and my song will be playing in the background.
“It is called ‘Don’t you wish I was there’ and it will hopefully become a song to represent the campaign.”
South Dorset MP Richard Drax said he would not back down from the fight to save the helicopter.
He said: “I welcome any attempt to bring awareness to the campaign.
“I think the short film is a wonderful idea.
“Lots of different people are fighting to save the helicopter and we are co-ordinating our efforts.”
He added that he would like to show the film to those in government who urged him to toe the party line.
To share your experience with the Portland Coastguard Helicopter or volunteer to be in the film contact Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fears still growing on cuts plans
A CAMPAIGN group has slammed plans to axe Portland coastguard rescue co-ordination centre and said they are ‘not based upon operational reasoning’.
Coastguard campaign group National Coastguard SOS has just submitted a report to the Transport Select Committee outlining their concerns about the proposed changes to coastguard co-ordination centres.
Several centres across the UK, including the Portland Maritime Rescue and Co-ordination Centre on Weymouth harbourside, are facing the axe under new government plans.
But campaigners remain hopeful following a cabinet reshuffle and the transport select committee is welcoming reports on how the proposed changes are being implemented.
The committee said it would ‘like to hear about the possible impact from these changes’.
Speaking for the SOS group Dennis O’Connor said: “The planned closure of co-ordination centres is not based upon operational reasoning.
“We are concerned that insufficient consideration has been given to the effect that the loss of stations will have on coastal communities and on the safety of those who use the coast for recreational and commercial purposes.”
In the Cabinet reshuffle, Justine Greening was replaced as Secretary of State for Transport by Patrick McLoughlin and Mike Penning, the UK Shipping Minister, was replaced by Stephen Hammond.
Mr O’Connor said: “The recent reshuffle has brought fresh hope that the new ministers will adopt more of an open dialogue approach and will urgently reconsider the closure programme.”
He added that campaigners had written to the new ministers asking to meet to discuss the government’s closure plans.
The report by the SOS group comes hot on the heels of South Dorset MP Richard Drax and his team submitting their own report to the transport select committee on plans to save the Portland coastguard helicopter. Mr Drax is also championing an epetition in an attempt to save the helicopter.
To support the campaign go online and visit epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36619