1963: Is where the origins of the branch can be traced back to, when Bernard Braley, the director of a music publishing firm, wrote to The Surrey Mirror suggesting that a branch should be set up in the town. He himself had known times of real depression and had been moved by a radio programme about the Samaritans. His letter was picked up by Chad Varah, who encouraged him to move things forward.
24th October 1964: Braley approached Rev Graham Williams, Rector of Nutfield, and gained his agreement in principle to head up a new Samaritans branch. A meeting was duly held in St Philip's Church Hall, at which Graham was officially appointed as the first Director/ Chairman (the roles were combined at first as they still are in Scotland). Before taking up his Samaritans responsibilities, Graham Williams was formally interviewed by Chad Varah for his suitability and became "Graham100". [Graham had an impressive CV: as well as being a clergyman, he was an Oxford graduate and had been a wartime bomber pilot.]
1st November 1964: The official opening date for the 'Samaritans of East Surrey and North Sussex' as it was officially known then (until Horsham branch opened in 1973 and it lost the 'North Sussex' bit). It was the 53rd branch to open and operated initially from a temporary centre in the basement of 5 St Mary's Road thanks to the kind offices of Mr Maurice Northover, a local undertaker.
1st May 1969: The branch officially opens in its first proper home at 42 Holmesdale Road, after having rapidly outgrown its temporary premises, in December 1968 the branch was able to buy a semi-detached house, a large part of the cost being funded by a legacy from a grateful woman in East Grinstead.
September 1980: A campaign is launched to raise money for a new HQ; the branch's basic amenities and badly sited for drop-in callers, was generally too small for the now 125 strong volunteers.
30th January 1982: Was when the campaign's success resulted in the official opening by the then Mayor of Reigate & Banstead and the President of the Samaritans for the Samaritans of East Surrey at our current location: 'John Williams House’ ( in memory of the branch's third director), at 4b High Street, Reigate.
The building had been built, owned and run (along with 4a) as a toyshop by the La Trobe family from 1926 to Mr James La Trobe's retirement when the properties were sold as two separate lots.
17th February 2004 : The High Sheriff of Surrey formally re-opened the centre after a major refurbishment made possible by a generous benefaction.
1st November 2014: The High Sheriff of Surrey and the Mayor of Reigate & Banstead formally re-opened the centre after a major refurbishment on the day of our 50th Anniversary. This was attended by our patrons Danny Murphy and Joanna Taylor with volunteers past and present.
3rd February 2016: The branch voted at the Extraordinary General Meeting to affiliate to the Samaritans Central Charity whilst retaining an element of independence as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This involved a lot of paperwork including a Due Diligence Questionnaire and an application to become a CIO with a new branch constitution. Various compliance checks on the premises had to be carried out too.
1st April 2017: The change of charity status to a CIO was completed giving the branch a new Registered Charity No. 1170525, whilst the original charity (No. 238020) now remains only as a “shell” for legal purposes.