A brilliant late Christmas present has taken Age Concern Barnstaple over the line to smash its £25,000 appeal.

Director Andrea Scott had popped into the office to do some work on December 27 but was stunned when an anonymous gentleman called and said he would like to donate £10,000.

The service had to raise the money by January or face closure and launched an urgent appeal with Barnstaple mayor Ian Roome and the Gazette in November.

Now it can continue to help around 220 elderly people a week in the town and district to stay in their own homes through a variety of services including home visits, telephone contact and drop in social events.

Andrea said she was overwhelmed when the anonymous benefactor, a local man, called to offer the money.

She said: “He said he had seen the television appeal and read the articles in the paper and wished us to succeed and continue with our service – it was just quite wonderful really.

“With this amount of money it allows us to continue for extra time in which we can look at finding a sustainable business plan to run it going forward.”

An online JustGiving page attracted more than £16,000 in donations, including big gifts of £5,000, £2,500 and £1,000. The mayor and Barnstaple town councillors also donated their community grants to the appeal.

Andrea added: “It’s been fantastic, we are very grateful to the mayor for giving us his support and for the response from the public.

“It’s also been amazing that our volunteers and clients have come forward to share their stories.”

Devon County Council had provided emergency funding to keep the service going until this April, but had warned the charity it must find £25,000 a year and create a ‘sustainable business plan’ if it was to continue to receive funding.

Barnstaple mayor Ian Roome hailed the success of the appeal to save a ‘lifeline’ in the community. He said: “From launching this with the Gazette, which helped us get the message out to the community, the response has been amazing.

“It’s truly phenomenal that our community has got behind Age Concern, which looks after the most vulnerable in our society.

“The service would cost Devon County Council £200,000 a year and Age Concern offer really good value to our community, not only in monetary terms but also the social aspect of it.

“It’s something we don’t see ourselves unless we use the service or know someone who does.

“The challenge now is for our community to support it going forward so it can continue to operate in Barnstaple and the surrounding parishes.”