ON what should be a milestone occasion, instead of organising celebrations a Bolton charity is calling time.

In its 50th anniversary year the Friends of Bolton Museum and Art Gallery has decided to call it a day.

The group is supported by volunteers and voted to fold this week at its annual meeting after seeing a drop in membership numbers.

Over the last five decades members have helped to raise money for Bolton Museum, in Le Mans Crescent, to fund new collections and projects.

Judith Redfern, aged 63 of Breightmet, has been an active member of the registered charity for the last 30 years and attended the meeting where the decision was made to fold the group.

She said: “It is just sad to see something that has been going so long deciding to close. It felt like a fait accompli.

“The trustees were more or less saying because of diminishing numbers and committee members getting older there was no one to replace them. The majority voted in favour of ending.

“The numbers were getting lower but I feel like nothing was being done to market the group, no one knew we were here. There wasn’t anything to encourage younger people to join and we are all getting older. It is just so sad.”

The Friends group was founded in 1966 with Joyce Butler acting as long-term chairman. Members met regularly and raised money through day trips and weekends away to heritage spots around the UK. Any profit funded acquisitions for the museum.

This included a permanent collection of Bolton footballer Nat Lofthouse’s sporting memorabilia in 2013.

A council spokesman said it would continue to work with Friends and will be consulting with members on how to re-invent and reinvigorate a group of supporters for the museum as it moves forward with plans for the Egyptology gallery.

The spokesman added: “We are very sorry to see the group fold as we have enjoyed a long and mutually supportive relationship over many years. The Friends of Bolton Museum is a charity and its volunteers have sadly declined in numbers to the point where they have struggled to recruit new blood and enough people willing to take over the running of the committee. The group very kindly helped Bolton Museum to purchase its famous Thomas Moran painting ‘Nearing Camp, Evening on the Upper Colorado River, Wyoming, 1882’, which is our pride and joy. And more recently they held an exhibition at the museum, displaying the many artefacts they helped us to acquire over the years, for which we will be forever grateful.”