BOAT builders aiming to raise £20,000 to undertake building work are fast approaching their target.

Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis has launched a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money to fund work which will allow for students socially distanced work space.

The funds will primarily go towards expanding a mezzanine to allow space for the academy's students to be socially distanced whilst working. The project is expected to cost around £76,000, with £26,000 already raised from trusts.

Once the Crowdfunder target has been reached, the remaining £30,000 will be covered by Boat Building Academy.

Since its launch at the end of January, the campaign has already raised more than £18,000 of its £20,000 target.

The academy was granted charity status in early 2020. It typically sees 36 students a year go through its boat building courses and also runs a 12-week furniture making course.

The building work will expand the mezzanine within the academy's workshop by 60 per cent of its current size - allowing students to maintain a two metre distance by using individual work stations rather than shared benches.

Will Reed, principal and trustee of Boat Building Academy, said: "We obviously don't want our doors to be shut for a minute longer than we have to."

"As soon as the science deems it safe for us to reopen, we want to be able to welcome our students back into an area that they feel confident to be in. That means increasing individual's workspaces, and to do that we need to raise the capital. Covid has raised unexpected situations for everyone, but we're throwing ourselves into the challenge.

“We’ve had some generous donations from the trustees and staff and were delighted to receive a direct payment of £1,000 from a graduate of the boat building course.”

"We are determined to make sure that the legacy we started in 1997 - of incredible boat builders and highly skilled wood workers - can continue."

Once the funding target is achieved, the building work will start as soon as possible - most likely a March date.

The academy hopes that the first boat building cohort will be in residence by then and the aim is to have the work completed by the time the second cohort begins in May.

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