ANOTHER 40 people donated their Winter Fuel Payment to the needy over Christmas, taking the Surviving Winter fund from £11,000 to £19,000.

But with flooding now adding to winter woes, more better-off pensioners are being urged to give to those who really need it.

Everyone born before January 5, 1952 receives between £100 and £300 tax-free as a winter fuel payment each year.

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But Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) is urging those who do not rely on the extra cash to donate it to the Surviving Winter Fund.

Money donated is being doubled through match-funding, before being given out in grants to community groups working to alleviate loneliness and isolation among the elderly in winter.

Last year’s fund gave grants totalling £12,100 to 11 groups which provide support and friendship to the elderly, including Towersey Memorial Hall committee in Towersey, near Thame, which received £1,000 towards the refurbishment of the village hall.

Jayne Woodley, chief executive of OCF, said: “On December 19, as reported in the Oxford Mail, 51 people had donated, bringing the total raised to £11,500.

“But since then another 40 people have donated their payments, taking the total to £19,000, which is great news.

“But with the ongoing flooding and more cold and bad weather forecast, we hope that even more people will contribute.

“Shockingly there were 330 winter-related deaths in Oxfordshire last year.

“Nearly all of these were people over 65.

“Winter is a dangerous time for the elderly and vulnerable. Many withdraw from the outside world and suffer in silence and that is why funding community groups which reach out to the elderly are so vital.

“This year we also appeal to everyone of any age to give what they can.”

Michael Hugh-Jones, 85, is chairman of Oxfordshire pensioners’ group OxPAG, and donated his fuel payment to the survival fund.

He said: “I have done this for the last two years because while I don’t count myself wealthy, I feel I can do without it, especially if it is going to one of the many worthwhile groups which help isolated elderly people.”

Mr Hugh-Jones, a widower and former county planning assistant added: “I attend several older peoples’ groups and see the good they do.

“Living alone can be lonely. I know that.

“My small contribution may not mean a lot, but if many people donate, it will make a difference, particularly as charities are being hit by funding cuts.”

To donate to the fund visit and click on the donate button at the top.

Make cheques payable to Oxfordshire Community Foundation and send to 3 Woodin’s Way, Oxford OX1 1HD.