Senior business figures recently bedded down for the night in Honister Slate Mine to highlight the ongoing struggle many elderly Cumbrians face to keep warm every night.

The challenge marked the beginning of Cumbria Community Foundation’s annual Winter Warmth Appeal, which helps older people who may have to choose between heating and eating, stay warm and well throughout the colder months.

The appeal has raised more than £1.3 million since 2010.

Andy Beeforth, chief executive of Cumbria Community Foundation spent a night shivering alongside David Beeby, the High Sheriff of Cumbria, Soo Redshaw, business coach and charity trustee, Sarah Dunning, chair of Westmorland, Richard Rankin, chief Executive, H&H Group plc and Mark Cant, co-founder and sales director, The Cumbrian Tea and Cumbrian Coffee Co Ltd.

One in ten households in Cumbria currently live in fuel poverty, meaning that they spend more than ten percent of their income on fuel.

And, according to Cumbria Community Foundation, during most winters, 300 older Cumbrians die because of problems associated with not being able to heat their homes or eat properly.

In worse winters, the figure has risen to 500.

David Beeby, the High Sheriff of Cumbria said: “I am delighted to be a part of highlighting the need for the Winter Warmth Appeal. The origin of this appeal was a generous donor who wanted to redistribute his winter fuel payment to those in real need. Sadly, this year the need will be greater than ever.

“Like him there will be many of us who receive the payment and who are fortunate enough not to need it. If you are in that position, why not donate it to the Winter Warmth Appeal and double the value.”

Andy Beeforth, chief executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “This year will see fuel prices increase and we will unfortunately see more people having to choose whether to heat their homes or cook a hot meal.

“When your income is fixed, as is the case for many retired, older people, rises in energy bills can quickly become unaffordable, and the only choice left in the worst cases is to endure a cold home.”

Liz from Windermere found out that she could apply to the Winter Warmth Fund from Age UK, which works in partnership with Cumbria Community Foundation.

The 80-year-old said: “It really made a difference, especially with being on benefits. I didn’t feel frightened of putting the heating on and I could put the radiators on in all rooms rather than just my lounge.”

Last year, more than a thousand Cumbrians were helped to keep warm, after £200,000 was donated to the appeal.

And this year, any donation made between November 15 and midday on December 13 will be doubled thanks to match fund pledgers WCF Ltd, the John Laing Charitable Trust, Roselands Trust, the Johnson Fund, Brian and Ann Clark Fund, the Harvey Family Fund and a private donor.

To donate online, visit