The people and businesses of North Devon have been urged to support an urgent appeal to raise vital funds for Age Concern Barnstaple before it is too late.

The charity supports around 220 elderly people in the town every week to ensure they can stay independent and in their own homes, but it must raise £25,000 by January to keep going.

Today the Gazette launches the Save Age Concern Barnstaple appeal, being led by mayor Ian Roome, who says the vital service must be preserved to continue helping some of the most vulnerable people in the town. He has started the appeal by donating his £250 community councillor grant.

It offers a range of services including home help and visiting, transport to appointments, shopping and pension collections service as well as support for carers, a home from hospital service and social activities and coffee mornings.

We reported in August the service would close its doors in October but Devon County Council came in with emergency funding to keep it going until April.

But the council has said the charity must find a minimum of £25,000 per year and provide a sustainable business if it is to continue receiving funding.

The service was literally a lifesaver for 92-year-old Barnstaple man Ken Breading, who lay on his own floor for three days before being discovered by his Age Concern volunteer Robin Logan.

He said: “If it had not been for Robin, I would not have lasted much longer. They took me to hospital and I was in there for a month.

“If there was no Age Concern I would have to go into a home and I don’t want to do that because you lose your freedom.”

Mr Breading flew 24 missions with Bomber Command from 1943 as a wireless operator and rear gunner in Lancaster bombers – he celebrated his 18th birthday in the skies above Hamburg.

After the war he completed his training as a joiner, then took a teaching degree and worked for the county council as a teacher before finishing his career as manager at the then Kingsley Hospital in Bideford.

Mr Roome, who visited Mr Breading at his home, with Robin in attendance, said: “Once I found that Age Concern was in trouble I wanted to try and stimulate the public in reacting and donating, even if it’s £5 or £10, it’s all going to help.

“Without it, vulnerable people such as Mr Breading would be left in the situation where they might have to go into a home, or social services and the health service would have to spend out much more than it costs now to look after them.

“It’s a service you don’t think about until you actually need it, but if it’s not there it’s going to have an impact on the vulnerable people in our community.”

If you would like to donate, go to https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/ageconcernbarnstaple drop in to Age Concern Barnstaple at 1 Litchdon Street or call 01271 324488.