INVERCLYDE'S pensioners' champion is taking to the airwaves on national radio.

Nell McFadden MBE will feature on the Sunday Morning show with Ricky Ross on BBC Radio Scotland after she was invited to take part in a debate on loneliness in older people.

The Gourock senior citizen, who is also chair of the local Elderly Forum, was delighted to talk to show presenter Ricky about local projects that aim to tackle the problem.

The initiative, which is run by Your Voice, recently received a �500,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Nell, 85, said: "Part of the money we've got aims to bring older people into the community, to help keep people active in later life and to support individuals and give them a voice.

"It also aims to influence local care providers, offer peer support groups and services to enable people to stay in their own homes and to meet the needs of older people."

Nell says she was pleased that the radio debate was highlighting a 'huge but hidden problem' which affects hundreds of thousands of pensioners. She told the Tele: "Older people can be lonely for various reasons.

"There's an awful lot of people who are lonely because their families don't live locally and they can be in the house on their own for hours on end.

"There are many people who lose a husband or wife in later life who never recover from that loss - I think people would be surprised at the numbers of lonely people."

Inverclyde senior citizen Sarah Halbert, who has benefited from services provided by the community care forum, will also feature on Sunday's show.

Sarah, 91, recently lost her sister but she met up with another lady in similar circumstances and the pair have became firm friends. Television presenter Esther Rantzen, who is launching a helpline for older people, will also be interviewed on the show.

Nell said: "I am highly delighted to go onto the show to talk about this important issue."

The show runs from 7 to 9am and Nell's interview will be broadcast at around 8am.