PADDLEBOARDERS have taken to the water in fundraising efforts for the Hengistbury Head Outdoor Centre.

Around 20 paddleboarders took part in the paddle from Christchurch to Mudeford Quay on Saturday morning.

Participants set off from Mayors Meed at 10am wearing their best Easter-themed outfits to mark the occasion. 

The paddle was organised by Samantha Arnold and her partner Neil Woods, who run BH Activity Junkies.

The pair had been keen to raise money and awareness for community society Hengistbury Head Outdoors (HHO), which had been set up to ‘save’ the visitor centre.

Bournemouth Echo: Samantha and NeilSamantha and Neil (Image: Samantha Arnold)

Samantha said: “We’re just trying to raise awareness and gather support from the community to help save the centre and get it re-opened.”

Speaking on how the paddle went, Samantha added: “It was brilliant. The weather conditions were great in the fact that the sun was out, and it was the first sunny day we’ve had.

“The weather conditions for the river weren’t great. We were planning to go up river towards Iford but the river levels were so high and fast because of all the rainfall.

"So, we changed our plans and just did a one way route from Christchurch to Mudeford Quay, and we took some vans to the end point and ferried everyone back.

“It was beautiful out – it was really nice.”

Bournemouth Echo: Saturday morning's paddleSaturday morning's paddle (Image: Samantha Arnold)

Hengistbury Head Outdoor Centre was closed in 2020 after Brockenhurst College was unable to continue activities.

Since then, the building has remained derelict and found too unsafe to allow people inside.

HHO has called for support from locals in its £4m plans to rejuvenate the centre, after noting it a "vital benefit” to the area and surrounding communities.

Director of HHO, Simon Pitman, previously said: "At its peak in 2019 there was 10,000 school children and 5,000 adults using the centre so there's a lot people who have gone through the centre and we found there's a lot of emotion and history around it too. 

"This love for the centre has helped us grow members initially. The member shares won't fund the centre but we're trying to make sure we are responsible and giving back the community in the widest possible sense."