A grandmother’s dying wish to make sure a charity which helps socially isolated elderly people has been fulfilled thanks to her grandson.

Chris Berry, head of operations for Arriva Herts and Essex, managed to secure a £500 grant for Voluntary Action Epping Forest’s Befriending Service.

The group had a special place in his grandmothers’ heart, who provided her weekly activities and days out to attend before sadly passed away in June.

Mr Berry said: “The Befriending Service really means a lot to me as my Nan used to be a part of it.

“As she got older, she started to feel lonely, so she used to really look forward to going on day-trips with the friends she made through the group.

“Sadly, loneliness is a common thing among the elderly, so the work that the group does is really important.”

The Epping Forest Befriending Service, established ten years ago, helps provide entertainment and activities for elderly residents across in North Weald, Waltham Abbey and Loughton.

Arriva recently launched Community Fund Project which allows members of staff to apply for special funding, for a local group or cause they feel passionate about.

“One of my Nan’s last wishes before she died was that the group would remain in good hands, so we had a special collection for donations at her funeral,” explained Mr Berry.

“I applied for the £500 Arriva grant on behalf of the group so that the staff and 26 wonderful volunteers can continue the great work they do.

“My mum burst into tears when I told her we had been chosen. It means a lot to us all.”

The cheque was officially presented to the Epping Forest Befriending Service, while carrying out a daytrip at Hunters Meet Country House in Hatfield Heath, Hertfordshire, on Tuesday, September 24.

At the event, the group were treated to lunch and a special cabaret performance later on in the afternoon.

Julie Bristow, from the Epping Forest Befriending Service, said: “This money has come at a fantastic time for us, and it really means a lot to have been chosen - we couldn’t believe it when we heard the news.

“The people we look after as part of our service are often very isolated, so one of the biggest parts of what we do is making them feel part of something again.

“We love being able to give them the opportunity to do things that they aren’t otherwise able to do on their own, and this money will mean we are able to fund further outings and activities, so we are extremely thankful to the team at Arriva for their generosity.”

Craig Taylor, marketing manager for Arriva, said: “At Arriva, giving back to the local community in which we operate is very important to us. As a business, we could not do what we do without the continued support of those who use our services.

“Our community funding initiative is a great way of rewarding those people and organisations that go the extra mile.

“The personal connection Chris has with the group, through his Nan’s past involvement especially, also highlights what a worthy cause the Befriending Service is, and what a positive impact its work has on many people.”