A former Blue Peter presenter has backed a campaign to improve mental health services in West Dorset.

Valerie Singleton, also of BBC Radio Four and The Money Programme fame, was the guest speaker at the first in a series of charity breakfasts to raise money for Dorset Mind.

The mental health charity has joined forces with David Upshall Insurance Services and Marketing West to meet the demand for better services in the west of the county.

Valerie entertained more than thirty business people and influencers at The Acorn Inn, Evershot, with talks of her life as a television presenter and the inside story on her well-known colleagues.

Also speaking was Dee Swinton, fundraising manager of Dorset Mind, which will benefit from all donations received at the breakfasts.

She outlined the charity’s roll out into West Dorset and the services it hopes to offer, particularly for young people.

Dee said: “David Upshall and Marketing West came to us about 18 months ago with the idea that they wanted to something in West Dorset for mental health.

“They realised it was a big problem and it became apparent that there was no real help in the area.

“Obviously as Dorset Mind we need to be doing what our name says on the tin and we need to get out west, especially as more statuary services are being cut.”

The charity is aiming to get the project up and running by next summer when it will start rolling out several services in the area.

Services in the pipeline include a one-to-on befriending service and an activity led support group which encourages people to open up while taking part in games or sport.

So far, Dorset Mind, which receives no fund from the national charity, has raised £3000 for the campaign.

Dee added: “It’s a really exciting time for us, we are only a small charity but we’re very enthusiastic about what we do.

“Expanding to West Dorset is something we have wanted to do for a while but David Upshall and Marketing West gave us the energy and enthusiasm we needed to put this into practice.”

The next breakfast with another popular guest speaker will be in November. For more information contact Marketing West on 01305 360 679.