A Lake District gingerbread business has donated over £1000 to the West Cumbria branch of Samaritans.

Samaritans describes itself as a charity "dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide." They offer a free telephone helpline to anyone in need of support, among other services.

Joanne Hunter, co-owner of Grasmere Gingerbread, based in Grasmere, said: "During my life I've suffered from horrible bouts of mental ill-health - including severe post-natal depression.

"I needed medical help but sometimes I simply needed someone to talk to, to work things out and process my feelings. This is where the Samaritans come into their own."

Last Christmas Grasmere Gingerbread donated 25p from each mail order delivery to Samaritans. The business matched the £655.25 raised, and eventually handed a cheque for £1310.50 over to the Whitehaven-based West Cumbria branch of the charity. Ms Hunter added that the Christmas appeal seemed appropriate as it can be a lonely time for many people.

Glynis Peacock, branch director of Samaritans West Cumbria, said: "We are incredibly grateful to Grasmere Gingerbread and their customers for this donation.

"It will help to fund our work and at the same time further raise awareness about mental health - a pressing issue in society.

"We want people who are suffering to open up, to talk to us before they get too ill to take positive action," she added.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can call Samaritans on 116 123, or email them at jo@samaritans.org. Visit www.samaritans.org for more information.