At this time of year, when many of us are putting the final touches to our Christmas plans, it is more important than ever to remember those people who may be on their own, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year. Most of us know what it is like to be lonely at some time or another, but for more and more elderly people loneliness is their daily routine. All too easily, the stoic older generation can become isolated through bereavement, illness, disability, or simply because they live far from their relatives. In today’s busy world, they do not want to be a burden to their friends and families, but days without any human contact can seem endless.

As the proud Patron of The Silver Line, I hope the readers of The Daily Telegraph will learn more about the work of this very special charity. It offers a free, confidential, helpline that is open every single day of the year. What is more, if callers want to be put in touch with a Silver Line Friend, they can have a regular weekly chat on the phone, getting to know each other and sharing news. The helpline gets over 10,000 calls a week and demand is increasing. I’m delighted that in October this year, The Silver Line joined forces with Age UK in the fight to combat loneliness and this will mean this relatively new charity can reach more people, recruit more volunteers, and raise the donations on which they rely to keep the service going.

Many lonely and isolated people’s lives have been changed by this inspirational charity and, with your support, The Silver Line can continue to bring a little light into their otherwise dark days.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish all the readers of The Telegraph and their families a very Happy Christmas.