ALMOST 10,000 people flocked to Mudeford quay for the annual Lifeboat Funday to raise funds for Mudeford's RNLI station.

The free event was greeted with sunshine and big crowds as a wide range of attractions took place on Sunday - raising vital money for the voluntary service.

The popular raft race was filled with sixteen entries competing in two heats and a final.

HM's Coastguard helicopter teamed up with a lifeboat crew to perform a demonstration in the water just off Avon Beach.

Mudeford RNLI chairman Simon Wyatt-Budd said the event thrived on the support of a great community.

"The raft race was brilliant with the fire crew and local businesses. It's all in a safe environment, but everyone has great fun," Mr Wyatt-Budd said.

"It feels like people have been really generous in coming here to support the event today and we probably have up to 10,000 people here.

"On Saturday night our team were setting up in the rain and we thought it wasn't going to work, but the community has come out and got on our side.

"We've got a team of 20 to 30 people who volunteer to do this because they live down by the coast, they understand the great work the RNLI do."

Away from the events on the water, there was stalls and rides on the green as well as a wide range of food on offer.

The importance of the lifeboat service was highlighted on Saturday as the crew in Lymington were dispatched to help a man who fell into the water, whilst the Swanage service helped a 32ft yacht which suffered an engine failure.

Mr Wyatt-Budd said the funds raised from events like the Funday and the Autumn Ball are extremely important.

"The money raised today will go towards the local station so it's the community supporting the community. Last year we raised £33,000 from fundraising over the 12 months and it's fantastic to be able to help them out," Mr Wyatt-Budd added.

"The station only get a certain amount of funding so the extra money we raise allows them to make sure their equipment is in top condition for this area, to do training and recruit new staff.

"People who work the RNLI are doing a part-time voluntary job so they give a lot and put themselves in dangerous situations for the community."

The Mudeford RNLI's Autumn Ball takes place at the Captains Club and tickets are on sale for the event.