A pensioner from Walney Island has branded a charity fund as a 'life saver' as its annual fundraiser is launched.

Mary Morsby, aged 69, was praising Cumbria Community Foundation Winter Warmth Appeal.

The fund is designed to help older people across the country afford to put the heating on over the coming months.

Ms Morsby said: "If I can’t keep the house warm, or warmish, then I get bad coughing fits and my chest gets tight.

“I have an electric fire, but I don’t use it because it is too dear - to be truthful sometimes it is warmer outside than it is in.”

Every year between 300 and 500 older people in Cumbria die because of problems related to not being able to heat their homes.

Many older Cumbrians are forced to choose between heating and eating during winter and this year will be extra tough due to continuing high energy and food costs.

Describing the fund, Ms Morsby added: "It helped me to put money on the gas and electric and get warmer.

"I was able to get a few bits of shopping; I had cut back on food, and things like washing powder and toiletries."

Cumbria Community Foundation, which is based at Dovenby near Cockermouth, has run the appeal every year since 2010 raising almost £2.5 million.

The aim this year is to reach £500,000, building upon a record year in 2022 when £661,908 was raised for the Winter Warmth Appeal.

This was used to make 2,413 grants, helping 3,223 older Cumbrians keep warm.

"Every time you shop stuff has gone up and it’s hard work trying to juggle stuff in the winter," Ms Morsby explained.

"You have got to eat and keep warm. The money was like a godsend really. It’s a lifesaver.”

Donations to the Winter Warmth Appeal made until 5pm on December 11 will be doubled thanks to the generosity of match funding champions.

Jenny Benson, director of Programmes and Partnerships at Cumbria Community Foundation, the charity that runs the annual appeal, says donations are even more crucial this year.

“We are being told by our partners at Age UK just how desperate a situation it is for people who are being forced to choose whether they eat or heat their homes,” she said. 

You can donate online or by phoning 01900 825760 between the hours of 9am and 5pm.