A CHARITY which offered the public emergency transport to hospital has ceased operations after nearly 100 years.

The Witham Ambulance Trust closed down last Friday after serving the town and surrounding areas since 1921.

Set up by Charles Henry Strutt of Blunts Hall, the trust has come to the aid of stricken residents unable to get themselves to hospital.

Despite its popularity in the 20th century, trustees say a decline in use in recent years has left them with little choice but to close the charity down.

Chairman Angela Kilmartin said: "As soon as I took over as chairman it became obvious it was out of date and no longer needed. It has just become redundant and no one was using it.

"In the days when it had started there was a huge need for it because no one had any cars and there wasn't a lot in the way of transport. It was often used by soldiers returning from the First World War and was a big help back in those days.

"But in the four years I have been chairman it has been used about five times. We decided to give it one more year and put lots of advertising in doctors surgeries and around the town to see if we could get people to use it.

"But we had one application all year so it was an obvious decision to close it down."

The closure has seen the trust donate its remaining funds of £5,200 evenly between the Essex Air Ambulance and St John's Ambulance.

The air ambulance says the money will help fund the cost of life-saving mission.

St John's aims to use the donation on purchasing a radio repeater which allows crews at events to remain in touch with their ambulance when it has to take patients to hospitals.

Mrs Kilmartin added: "The money just had to go to an ambulance charity.

"I'm delighted it will be put into good use and who knows, maybe it will help save someone's life."