A CHARITY fundraising group is disbanding after 36 years because of a lack of new volunteers.

The Marlow and High Wycombe fundraising committee of Cancer Research UK has raised £313,000 by organising lunches, coffee mornings and street collections since it formed in 1970.

But the 15 female members, almost all of whom are in their 80s, say they are getting too old to carry on. Earlier in the year the committee placed an advert in the Bucks Free Press for volunteers, but no-one replied.

Founder committee member Janet Knox said: "We are all getting so blooming old. We absolutely loved it when we were involved, but now it is time to give it up."

Former Wycombe and Marlow MP Sir John Hall invited Mrs Knox to set up the fundraising committee after learning that her sister Audrey had died of liver cancer.

Mrs Knox, 84, of Tierney Court, Riverside, Marlow said: "The MP knew me because my husband George was the Conservative leader of Buckinghamshire County Council.

"I was the obvious choice for the committee because my sister died from cancer. It started in her eye and she had it removed. She was told by a specialist that the cancer would return 13 years later in the liver and it did. She died on her 40th birthday."

The original members of the committee were Mrs Knox's friends from All Saints' Church in High Wycombe.

When she moved to Marlow in 1972, she recruited more people from the town. They held regular street collections behind Waitrose and in Marlow High Street. They also opened up the district's first Cancer Research shop next to Crooks Shanks, Rhys and Jude estate agents in Wycombe High Street, when it became unexpectedly vacant for a few months in 1970.

Mrs Knox said: "We had plenty of volunteers back in those days because young women didn't tend to go to work, of course now that has all changed. Our biggest fundraisers were the ploughman's lunches we held at Sentry Hill house on the Henley Road in Marlow. We used to get £800 just from one lunch. It was so popular."

Fellow fundraiser Shirley Read, 73, of Wethered Park, Marlow, said: "We wanted to hand over the reigns to the younger generation, but they just don't seem to be interested. It's such a shame."

The group met for the last time on Friday at the High Wycombe Conservative Party headquarter's and were presented with a certificate of appreciation by Wycombe and Marlow MP Paul Goodman.