Radio presenter Sophie Little has launched an extraordinary attack on the BBC at the start of the final Treasure Quest show.

The programme, which has run for 15 years, ends today, after it was axed by the Corporation as part of a series of cuts to local radio.

At the start of the show, Ms Little read a statement in which she said the cuts were "ageist, ableist" and "unbelievably unfair".

Eastern Daily Press: Sophie Little (left) and Paul Hayes (right) said an emotional goodbye to the showSophie Little (left) and Paul Hayes (right) said an emotional goodbye to the show (Image: Paul Hayes)

She said: "Something that has always bothered me is when an individual has any kind of platform and they don't use it to speak up for others at a time when they should.

"Local radio is a vital public service. 

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"And it is my opinion that these drastic, sweeping cuts that are taking place to BBC local radio stations all across the country are not only detrimental to anyone that enjoys switching on their local station and hearing their favourite shows, and detrimental to the local communities who value it and use it.

Eastern Daily Press: The Forum has been home to the show for 15 yearsThe Forum has been home to the show for 15 years (Image: Newsquest)

"Actually these cuts are unbelievably unfair to those who need local public service broadcasting the most.

"Those who are lonely and isolated, or those who are unable to leave their house, or unable to use the internet, or unable to pay for broadband. Those who not only take comfort from the company of a familiar voice coming out of their radio, but who truly rely on it to keep going.

"And if you think that sounds dramatic then I wish you could be privy to some of the coversations I've had with listeners in recent weeks that have reduced me to tears.

"The BBC's mission, as defined by Royal Charter, is to act in the public interest, serving all audiences.

"I believe in the BBC and all that it stands for. It is vital, and it is important. But I will say this how I see it: I feel the cuts are ableist, ageist, and they place economic barriers for some people too.

Eastern Daily Press: Former presenter David Whiteley, with Reinger and LittleFormer presenter David Whiteley, with Reinger and Little (Image: BBC Radio Norfolk)

"I felt incredibly nervous to say this, thinking about the many bosses above my head and how this goes against the grain of all of the training I have ever had in the 15 years that I have been here.

"But I remind myself that this is not their BBC. It is our BBC. Like all of our public services it exists to serve you, so must be scrutinised and held to account to protect its own integrity.

"Thank you for all of the wonderful moments we have shared across these airwaves. They have shaped me, and I will never forget them."

The show, which sees listeners solve clues to help send presenters on journeys around the county, aired its final programme from 10am until 1pm.

Sophie Little co-hosts the show with Paul Hayes, the Questmaster, and Julie Reinger.

Eastern Daily Press: Julie Reinger started the quest Julie Reinger started the quest (Image: BBC Radio Norfolk)

The show's future had been in doubt for several months after the BBC announced that it would be cutting back on local radio services in a move which would only see localised programmes air between 6am and 2pm on weekdays.

On weekends, when the programme is broadcast, the local output is set to be reduced to sports commentaries and hourly news bulletins.

The emotional, often tearful, final show - which included special appearances from several former presenters - saw Little and Reinger follow a series of clues before finding the last ever treasure.

Members of the public also got in touch during the programme to share their disappointment.

A BBC spokesman said: "All 39 BBC Local Radio stations including Radio Norfolk will continue to provide local programming throughout the week. We are passionate about serving local communities but Local Radio is just one of the ways we reach our audiences. We are modernising our local services so that however licence fee payers choose to get their local information, we’ll be there across radio, television and online for many years to come.”