A FAMILY which has donated around £1million to keep the UK’s lifeboats running has announced it will step down from fundraising next month.

Joan and Jim Olds started running the RNLI shop in Ilminster more than 30 years ago.

The shop is situated in Swan Precinct, off Ditton Street.

The couple raised more than £40,000 a year for two decades, with Jim also in the public eye as Ilminster’s town crier.

Sadly Jim died 10 years ago, with his family marking the anniversary of his passing this week.

Phillip, their son, said: “Upon his death, this newspaper announced the death of ‘Mister Ilminster’, and since then my mother Joan has made it her life’s work to continue with the shop.”

She continued to pour her life into the fundraising shop, and still raised more than £20,000 every year.

“This charity shop is the only one of its kind in the country, other RNLI shops only sale their merchandise,” Phillip added.

“I think every person in Ilminster at some time must have had contact with her.

“So it comes with great sadness that I must announce that this time too has come to an end.”

On Friday, July 8, Joan suffered a severe stroke is remains in Musgrove Park Hospital.

As well as Joan’s illness, the Olds’ lease on the premises is shortly expiring.

Phillip said: “There is no prospect of her returning to run the shop, therefore the Lifeboat shop will be closing on the August 22 with everything having to be sold.

“I must thank the people of Ilminster for supporting the charity over all these years.

“I must also take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers who have, week in week out, manned the shop and assisted Mum with raising these most important funds.”