A PENSIONER who claims his local library saved his life is fighting against its closure.

Derek Ryan says Moorside Library and Community Centre has been a refuge for him since the death of his wife of 58 years, Patricia, in September.

The library is one of ten earmarked for closure across the borough by Bury Council. Groups are campaigning against the closures and the council will make its final decision in May.

Mr Ryan, aged 85, said: “After my wife died I became extremely lonely. It was a very difficult time because we were together for 58 years and for the last five years of her life I cared for her, answered questions for her at appointments and became her voice.

I came down to the library and that’s when I discovered the lunch club. I was invited along to join for a meal on a Friday afternoon and have been coming ever since.

"I was so lonely and had no friends but I've come here and the whole community have saved me.

“With my closest family member living 170 miles away, I only have myself in Bury now. My daughter, Helen, runs her own business and even though we keep in touch over the phone, like the rest of my children she is busy leading her own life.

“The group has become something I look forward to and I’ve made so many new friends coming here every week. It’s like having a whole new family. It has been wonderful.”

Mr Ryan, of Walmersley Road, said he would no longer see his friends if the library closed and is desperate to see it keep its doors open.

He added: “About five years ago my wife became more and more confused as she developed dementia. She became dependent on me and it became my job to care for her as she had cared for me throughout our marriage whenever I'd been ill.

“I took up cooking lessons and took her to her appointments. I helped to answer questions for her but it was difficult to watch as she even became confused about who I was and who our children were.

“These sorts of libraries and community centres are lifelines for the elderly and more vulnerable people in our community.”

But Mr Ryan says he is lucky to still be able to drive and run his own balloon business, Balloons R Magic. He said: “I live in a big house on my own now where Patricia and I raised our family.

“Our children have moved out and got their own lives now. We keep in touch but I’ve been in the process of trying to sell my home while still running my balloon business.

“My son and his wife have come over from Japan to help with clearing it out which is fantastic of them.

“I wake up every day and continue to take balloon orders for parties and events across the borough. It keeps me busy from day to day and I love to work.

“The lunch club has been a fantastic and I honestly think has kept me alive. The chance to speak to friends and have a social outing once a week means so much to me and everyone else here.

“It’s been a life saver since losing my wife. I keep my spirits up and remain as busy as I can, I just hope the council listen to us and think twice about closing Moorside Library.”

Mr Ryan added that if Moorside Library was to shut, that his closest library would be Bury Library.

He said: "I wouldn't go into Bury because the lunch club doesn't meet there.

"And although I drive, I wouldn't because you have to pay for parking.

"For a lot of older people it would be a case of getting a bus and for the less mobile users, they wouldn't be able to do that. The bottom line is we don't want to lose our library or our lunch club."

To join the campaign, visit facebook.com/BuryCommunityLibrariesFIRST