CHARITY champion Peter Beaty is stepping down after ten years as chairman of Help the Aged's Durham and Wearside fundraising committee.

The 72-year-old is to concentrate his efforts on Newton Aycliffe and the surrounding area.

Mr Beaty, who was chairman of the North-East branch of the National Grocers' Benevolent Fund for 25 years, believes he has helped raise more than £1m for charity during the past 60 years.

He said: "I've really enjoyed it. I'm into fundraising in a big way. I've done it since I was 14 when I held my first jumble sale.

"I'm now 72 years of age and I should have been well into retirement, but I've probably been working harder in the past seven years since I retired than when I was working and getting paid for it.

"Apart from that, there are a lot of pressures in organising things. I'm a diabetic and diabetics should not have stress, but I've had an awful lot of stress recently so I've decided to call it a day."

Mr Beaty will continue working for Help the Aged in his home town of Newton Aycliffe. As well as helping to raise funds, he will be involved in organising parties, bingo and other activities for elderly residents.

He said: "I'm not calling it a day, full stop. We covered the whole of County Durham and Wearside and that was impossible in my opinion.

"So we're going to concentrate on Newton Aycliffe, Aycliffe Village, Heighington and Redworth and we'll be looking after senior citizens in those areas."