PUBLIC votes have helped the West Dorset Women’s Refuge secure a major donation.

The charity has received £3,000 from Lloyds Bank through its Community Fund, which sees people voting with tokens in branches and online for local causes to receive a share of the cash.

The refuge topped the poll in West Dorset with 37 per cent of the 17,904 votes cast to ensure it received the maximum donation.

It was nominated by customer services assistant at the Lloyds Dorchester branch Fiona Neale after she heard a firsthand account of how vital the refuge can be for women in need.

She said: “I had a customer come in to open her account here and she told me her life story basically and how she found the refuge was very supportive.

“When this came up and they wanted a local charity I automatically thought about the refuge.”

Area director for Lloyds Jullian Marshall-James said this connection with local causes was exactly what the Community Fund scheme was intended for.

He said: “From our perspective it is exactly how we wanted to do it because that is what we want it for.”

Chairman of the West Dorset Women’s Refuge and local councillor Molly Rennie said she was very grateful to Lloyds and all those people who had voted for them.

She said the funds would be used to run programmes that are not provided for by the government or statutory funding.

Coun Rennie said: “I very much welcome this because it has come about by the staff nominating us and the whole of the community voting and supporting us, without that happening we would never have received a cheque of this amount.”

She added that the voting process had also helped raise awareness of the refuge and its work.