FUNDRAISERS in Fishguard have been left disappointed by the withdrawal of lucrative collecting boxes from the Stena Europe ferry.

Stena Line has taken RNLI collecting boxes off the ferry that runs between Fishguard and Rosslare. However, the company said that it will continue to support the lifeboat in other ways.

The Western Telegraph understands that the boxes, which used to make around £800 a year for the charity, were removed in August.

A spokesperson for the company said that Stena Line has removed the boxes because of its partnership with another charity.

"Stena Line has entered into a charity partnership with Mercy Ships at a corporate level across Europe and as such, Mercy Ships is Stena Line's main focus from a fundraising perspective," said the spokesperson.

"Mercy Ships deploys hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need."

The company would not confirm whether Mercy Ships collecting boxes had replaced the lifeboat ones onboard the Stena Europe but said its 'main focus of charitable support is Mercy Ships'.

"This does not mean that Stena Line does not support other 'local' charities on an ad hoc basis," he said. However, he could not confirm whether Stena would continue to support local events such as the carnival, music festival and the New Year's Eve fireworks.

The spokesperson would not say whether Stena would make a one-off donation to the RNLI instead of having the collecting boxes onboard, but he did say the company would continue to support the charity that saves lives at sea in other ways.

"In relation to the RNLI locally, Stena Line will continue to support the RNLI in other

ways such as the North Breakwater Open Day, allowing access to the public to walk this historic structure, in return for which they can make a donation to the RNLI," he said.

"Stena Line also supports the RNLI by facilitating free travel of RNLI volunteers a number of times a year onboard its ferries as part of Flag Day, to help sell RNLI gifts and merchandise onboard."

Sylvia Hotchin, chairwoman of Fishguard and Goodwick RNLI fundraising committee said that while the group valued all the help from Stena, the withdrawal of the collecting boxes was disappointing.

"We appreciate the help that Stena has continued to give us and the support over the years," she said. "But we are disappointed to lose this source of income that generated around £800 a year, mostly in passengers' loose change."