A LEADING businessman has become the new patron of the North Yorkshire branch of the Samaritans.

Entrepreneur David Kerfoot MBE has been taken on as patron of the Northallerton and Dales branch of the charity.

He set up the Kerfoot Group in 1980 with just £300, which has grown to be a £80m a year edible oils business, which manufactures and trades vegetable oils around the world. It still retains its headquarters in Northallerton.

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Mr Kerfoot is also vice chair of the York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and has been involved with numerous other initiatives in the community.

He was a Northallerton Prison Independent Monitoring Board member for 27 years and established the Pendragon Community Trust in Northallerton, which provides facilities for people with disabilities.

Mr Kerfoot was awarded his MBE in 2009 for services to business and the community.

A spokeswoman for the local Samaritans branch said: “We look forward to working with him in the future, so the Samaritans can give an even better service as the need grows daily.

“Northallerton & Dales branch took over 20,000 calls last year, so it is vital that we develop to cope with demand.

“As it is the 50th anniversary of the branch this year, it is quite fitting that we have the addition of a new patron.”

To contact the Samaritans, for support or to volunteer, contact 01609-776161 or northallertonsamaritans@talktalk.net