Loneliness and isolation can be soul destroying for elderly residents stuck at home.

Statistics reveal nearly half of over 75-year-olds live alone and 7 per cent people aged 65 or over in the UK say they always or often feel lonely, according to Age Concern.

But when Brian Beech pulls up in his minibus, his friendly face makes a world of difference to the older generations.

Mr Beech is one of about 50 volunteers with Braintree Council’s community transport service and has helped with the 62,000 passenger journeys which took place last year across the district.

He provides a lifeline for the elderly and is also a hit with the ladies.

His wife Patsy, 66, said: “The ladies absolutely love him.

“They’re all in their 80s and 90s and they think he is wonderful."

The council is appealing for more volunteer drivers to come forward and it is also encouraging people to get in touch if they think a friend or relative could benefit from the scheme.

For more information email community.transport@braintree.gov.uk or call 01376 552525.

See the BWT for the full story.