Wells SOUP has raised £5,500 for local charities – so far.

The latest four to benefit came on Saturday to the city’s Elim Connect Centre, the new and bigger venue for SOUP as the audience has grown since this initiative to start conversations, enjoy a lunch and improve where we live was launched two years ago in Seager Hall.

Each good cause has four minutes to tell the audience while they enjoy a light lunch what they do and how they would use the money raised at the event.

Chris Nourse from Freewheelers Blood Bikes told how they provide a free out-of-hours courier service 7pm-7am for the NHS in Somerset.

They deliver 400 items a week – not just blood and not just to hospitals but homes too – with 99 per cent of the money they raise going directly to their service.

Michael Rowe of the Mid Somerset Tinnitus Self Help Group started his four minutes with a dramatic silence as he showed the 80-strong audience a series of message cards then said: “This is 30 seconds more silence than I will hear during the rest of his life.”

Tinnitus is the name for hearing noises that aren’t caused by an outside source.

“For me it is an irritation,” said Michael. “For others it can be life changing and even life destroying.”

Rachel Inman from the Wells-based Connect Community Outreach told of her work with the homeless and rough sleepers, and the misconceptions about them. This year they have had 106 reports of rough sleepers in Mendip.

She had worked with a 90-year-old man who had been living in his car for 17 years and a Special Forces soldier who had served his country for 16 years but ended up rough sleeping and unable to cope with life.

Jane Hill of Wells City Band told how they offer the chance “of playing to anyone over the age of eight with or without medical or physical challenges.”

The band’s history had been traced back to 1838 and it plays at a wide range of civic, social and community events.

The audience voted that Connect Community Outreach should receive half the £700 on offer. The rest was split equally between the other three charities.

Every one a winner: Michael Rowe, Chris Nourse, Jane Hill and Rachael Inman with Paddy O’Hagan and Ross Young of Wells Independents