Pensioner struggling with heating bills stunned by kind strangers' offers to pay after ITV report

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Elodie Harper.

A pensioner who opened up about his struggles to pay his heating bills says he has been left feeling "overwhelmed" after offers of help flooded in from members of the public.

Leonard White, 79, lives alone in St Ives in Cambridgeshire and told ITV News Anglia last week that he is continually struggling to make ends meet.

"I sometimes feel like throwing my arms up in despair and saying 'the next stop is a nursing home - you look after me'," he said. "I need a certain quality in my life. If I haven’t got that then life is not worth living is it?"

But since Mr White featured in an ITV Anglia report last week, kind-hearted viewers and readers have been contacting Age UK with offers of support.

They included offers to pay his heating bills for a year, as well as other donations and gestures of support - generosity which left Mr White lost for words.

"I was overwhelmed, really, I just couldn't believe that people would be [like that].

"I didn't think those sort of people existed anymore, and when I reflected on it I became emotional," said Mr White.

The pensioner said he was struggling to pay his rising heating bills and regularly had to decide between eating or heating his home.

"I go to bed quite often to save money, sometimes nine at night, but I wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning because I don’t need all that sleep," he said.

Mr White said he would be able to use the money on necessities and is also hoping it will enable him to keep canaries again - something he used to enjoy before it became too expensive.

"As these things whittle away in your life, you're left with less and less and less... to the point where you've just got four walls," he said.

Beverley Young from Age UK in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough - which will coordinate the offers to make sure Mr White gets the help he needs - said the response from the public had been "astounding".

"We certainly never expected anything like that," she said.

"Leonard has been very surprised and overwhelmed with the generosity that people have shown. He's never set out for personal gain or anything.

"He just wanted to raise awareness for other people."

The cost of living has become a key topic in recent months, with inflation rising above 7% and expected to remain there for two years.

On Thursday the chancellor stepped in to offset the spike in energy bills, while the Bank of England warned inflation would hit its highest point in more than three decades.

Energy bills are set to soar by 54% for 22 million households from the beginning of April, adding £693 to the annual bills of a typical household.