They are gentle giants that are renowned for their lifesaving abilities.

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And a pack of Newfoundland dogs and their owners were set to surpass the £40,000 fundraising figure at the weekend by performing a valued role at a Christmas tree farm and shop on the Norfolk-Suffolk border.

For the last ten years members of the East Anglian Working Newfoundlands (EAWN) club have been offering their unique towing services at the Elveden Estate, near Thetford, by carrying customers’ Christmas trees to their cars for a donation to charity.

The club was set to hit the £40,000 mark by the end of the weekend, which has helped boost the coffers of a host of charities over the years.

Fifteen Newfoundlands were at the estate at the weekend and have been meeting shoppers for the last three weekends.

Sylvia Webb, treasurer of he Newfoundlands club, who lives in Garboldisham, near Diss, said the arrangement came about after the estate allowed the owners to train their dogs in one of the lakes at Elveden between April and October.

“We love being here and people come back year after year and ask for a particular dog. And some people have come from as far as Sheffield and Oxford,” she said.

Every year members of the Newfoundlands club chose a charity to support with the donations they collect at Elveden and the East Anglian Air Ambulance has benefited the most with £16,846 received since 2001. Some of the other charities that have been helped are Hemsby Lifeboat, which has received £8,963, Caister Lifeboat £2,500, and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices £2,218.

The large and powerful Newfoundlands breed has traditionally been used to pull fishermen’s nets and rescue fishermen who fell overboard.

Members of EAWN were at Elveden for the final time of 2012 at the weekend at the estate’s Christmas experience event, which included an original Victorian carousel and Father Christmas in his grotto.

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