A CHARITY may need more than just 140 characters to express its thanks after a businessman set a fundraising challenge to celebrate a landmark birthday.

Stuart Allen has promised to donate £500 to New Hope if he manages to get up to 50,000 followers on his Twitter account @StuartAllenFCMI by Friday, October 31 - the date of his 50th birthday.

Mr Allen's 16-year-old son Jack is autistic and after visiting founder Jean Wilson at the charity's base on Wells Road, he realised the great work New Hope is doing.

"Jack's needs are complex and Jean's daughter's needs are also complex so when I met her I realised what she had managed to do while supporting her daughter, it just seemed logical to support her.

"It made absolute sense to choose New Hope."

The 49-year-old set up the popular #WorcestershireHour on Twitter which runs every Monday from 8pm for an hour and attracts about 1,000 tweets from businesses and organisations every 15 minutes.

The 50x50 challenge has already got off to a good start, Mr Allen is on target for the grand total having already reached almost 41,000 followers and gaining more at a rate of about 100 a day.

Mr Allen, from St John's, explained that he had planned to get to 100,000 followers by next year and afterwards plans to release two books, one about sales and another about coping in crisis.

"I set myself the challenge a couple of years ago to get 100,000 followers on Twitter.

"In October, it was a big birthday so I thought to push myself I would try and get 50,000 by my 50th birthday but I needed an incentive to make sure I did it and that's when I decided to do it to help New Hope."

Mrs Wilson, who set up New Hope in July 2010, said: "I'm grateful because not only is he doing his own challenge but he is getting New Hope's aims and what we do out there to more people.

"That is great and the donation is very welcome too."