LIFEBOAT fundraisers have good reason to cheer after collecting more than half of the £200,000 needed for their new boathouse in just eight months.

Swanage RNLI has raised more than £100,000 towards the cost of its new station, which is set to open in 2015 at the current boathouse site in Peveril Point Road.

This new base is needed to house the charity’s £1.5million Shannon Class lifeboat, which is the latest jet-propelled vessel in the RNLI’s fleet and is expected to arrive at Swanage in 2016.

In July last year, a special appeal was launched to help bankroll the new station, which will also boast improved facilities for the volunteer crew, a mechanic workshop, training room and office space.

RNLI appeal fundraising chairman Peter Foster said: “It has been a busy but fun eight months and events organised by the Swanage fundraising branch have included a fancy dress Mama Mia musical sing-along evening, a traditional barn dance, bowls and croquet competitions.

“We’ve also been honoured to have received some amazing support from the community outside of Swanage who have adopted and embraced our boathouse appeal. We’re now at the halfway point. The second half of the appeal is traditionally the hardest, as the initial enthusiasm wears off, but I don’t believe this to be true in Swanage.”

Mr Foster says he’s hopeful of reaching the appeal target this year – and there are a string of fundraising events, including the traditional Swanage Lifeboat Week, planned for 2014.

RNLI lifeboat operations manager Neil Hardy said: “Swanage RNLI holds a special place in many people’s hearts and we have had tremendous support, not just from our friends in the local community, but also that of the people who, although they don’t live here, are fond of Swanage or who use the water’s nearby and want to offer their help.”