A CALL has gone out for brave Cumbrians to join in a chilly outdoor challenge to raise money for elderly people in fuel poverty.

Cumbria Community Foundation’s Winter Warmth Appeal, which helps older people afford to stay warm, has already raised £50,000, half of its target.

However, every winter around 300 elderly people die in the county because of the effects of cold weather and the charity is now wanting hardy volunteers to help boost the total to £100,000.

‘The Big Sleep’, to be held near Windermere’s Low Wood Hotel on February 15, will look to plug that gap.

Chief Executive Andy Beeforth said: “We’ve kindly been lent a field near the Low Wood Hotel in Windermere, we’ve sorted out a screening of The Goonies and we’re going to brave the elements to raise awareness of the problems older people face in the winter and raise the rest of the money.”

He added: “We can’t be complacent and hope the rest of the cash will come in. All the money allocated for South Lakeland has been spent and all other areas of the county will soon be in the same situation.

“I want us to keep saying yes to older people who ask for help. I don’t want them to be choosing between eating and heating this winter.”

The money will ensure older people can afford to stay warm, eat well and remain mobile.

It will ensure they are getting all the benefits they are entitled to, help them to access grants to improve home insulation or replace old heating systems and show them how to shop around for the best fuel rate.

It will also help provide information on how to stay healthy, like getting the flu jab and staying active.

And also where to get extra support in local communities, such as through lunch clubs and befriending schemes

One couple who have already benefited from the Winter Warmth Fund are Jean and Graham in Coniston, both 67.

Jean said: “Since Graham had his stroke two years ago, it is very important that he keeps warm because he really feels the cold now. I think the Winter Warmth Fund is wonderful.

“Our electricity and gas is such an expensive item and this extra money means I can buy extra wood for the woodburner. It’s really great that people donate. It’s very kind.”

The following people have already pledged to sleep out: Paul Fletcher, Operations Manager at AMEC; Rob Rimmer, Director at Energy Road Campus; Simon Gall, Director of Lakeland Asbestos Management, Windermere; Chris and Ian Tomlinson, Langdale Walking and Adventure Holidays, Windermere; Peter Martin, Divisional Director of Brewin Dolphin, Penrith; Diana Matthews, Cumbria’s High Sheriff, Windermere and Martyn Nicholson, Managing Director of Russell Armer.

Donate online at www.justgiving.com/winterwarmthfund.

Write a cheque payable to: ‘Cumbria Community Foundation’ and write ‘Winter Warmth’ on the back. Send it to: Cumbria Community Foundation, Dovenby Hall, Dovenby, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0PN.

Send a text message to 70070 including code WINT37. You can donate £2, £5 or £10. e.g. WINT37 £5 to 70070.

Visit www.cumbriafoundation.org/bigsleep.