The founder of a charity that provides free plumbing and heating for the elderly or vulnerable has said he is “shocked” by Hugh Grant’s £10,000 donation to the cause.

James Anderson, from Burnley, who founded the charity Depher in 2017, said he had to look twice before believing the British star had made the donation, which GoFundMe has now verified and attributed to the actor.

The 54-year-old said: “I didn’t believe it was him. It’s a shock but it’s wonderful."

The payment was made to the charity’s GoFundMe page for its winter fundraising appeal, which has now raised more than £70,000.

In 2019, Mr Anderson's work received a boost when an invoice showing a charge of £0, for work on a boiler for a 91-year-old woman with leukaemia, went viral.

That led to a wave of publicity which saw members of the public donating tens of thousands of pounds to help Mr Anderson with his work - and also led to an increase in requests for work from Depher.

Lancashire Telegraph: 12/12/19 PA Hugh Grant during the filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks 6 Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV Grant. Picture credit should read: Isabel Infantes/PA

Mr Anderson, whose charity has to date helped more than 19,000 families, stressed how important Mr Grant’s donation will be.

He said: “That’s 10 boilers for people with cancer. Ten boilers for people who are dying."

Grant’s gesture is about “awareness” for the Depher founder, who also thinks he’s a “brilliant actor”.

Hero plumber James Anderson wants to help 1,000 families

The plumbing and heating engineer added: “I love him. I love the way he talks. He’s a brilliant actor.

"He’s a character and a typical British upstanding man.

“A donation off someone like Hugh is not just about the money, it’s about awareness – sharing and letting people know, showing the public and government the reality of what is going on.”

Mr Anderson explained how mounting pressures surrounding the charity work almost led him to take his life last year, adding: "It was worth the pain, it was worth the anger and tears to get to where we are now.

"To see how many people we’ve helped, smiles we’ve seen and lives we have saved, it’s really humbling for me to know that we’ve done that."

In July 2021, Mr Anderson said he was close to having to shut down Depher because of a lack of funding amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but the charity has since recovered.

To donate to Mr Anderson’s GoFundMe, click here: