A HAMPSHIRE rescue group has been awarded a £17,000 grant that will keep the service running "for years to come".

Solent Rescue is the latest beneficiary of fund named after Hampshire record-breaker Charles Burnett III, who died in a helicopter crash in New Mexico in 2018.

The money will help the Lepe-based charity upgrade its Arctic 24 inshore lifeboat and acquire a new launch trailer.

Mr Burnett, 61, entered the record books in 2009 after his Hampshire-based attempt to set a new world record for the fastest steam-powered car ended in triumph.

He achieved a speed of 148.308mph at Edwards Air Force Base in California, easily beating the previous record set by Fred Marriott in his Stanley Steamer in 1906.

British-born Mr Burnett was based in Texas but rented Newtown Park House near Lymington. He also had links with the nearby Beaulieu Estate.

Wayne Monks, Solent Rescue's fundraising officer, said the crew acquired its rescue craft from Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat Charity in 2019.

He added: "There was always a long-standing plan to upgrade the on-board technology as well as getting an upgraded launch trailer which will enable us to launch and recover the boat in a range of different weather conditions."

Solent Rescue was established in 1971 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary year.

Members are preparing for what is likely to be a busy summer, with more people holidaying in the UK instead of travelling aboard.

Mr Monks said the money from the fund would enable the service to keep running "for years to come".

He added: "We're extremely grateful to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF), which administered this grant."

Kate Shurety, interim chief executive of HIWCF, said: “We would like to thank the family of Charles Burnett for setting up this legacy with the Foundation.

"Charles Burnett was a generous philanthropist, enthusiastically supporting a wide range of great local causes.

"We know the Covid-19 crisis has impacted hugely on the charitable sector, and these grants will make a big difference to the services and resources of local organisations and the people they support.”

Mr Burnett and a group of friends were travelling to his ranch in New Mexico when their helicopter came down and burst into flames.

He had close links with the Beaulieu Estate, home of the National Motor Museum.

Speaking at time Lord Montagu said: "Charles helped a number of local charities including the National Motor Museum Trust.

“He will be remembered for his great generosity to charities and individuals, mischievous sense of fun, wonderful parties and love of fast vehicles."