Duke of Gloucester celebrates 50th anniversary of Eastbourne Samaritans

The Duke of Gloucester met Samaritans’ volunteers and unveiled a plaque to celebrate the Eastbourne and District branch’s 50th anniversary today.

The party were met at the branch by the Vice Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Sara Stonor.

The new Branch Director, Nigel Knight, welcomed the Duke when he arrived with the Mayor of Eastbourne, Janet Coles; the Chief Executive of Eastbourne Borough Council, Robert Cottrill and the Divisional Commander of Sussex Police, Neil Honnor.

Volunteers Beryl Healy and Ralph Homer met the Duke who had a tour of the building before unveiling the plaque.  Beryl is Chair of Trustees at the branch and Ralph is Eastbourne Samaritans’ longest serving volunteer and has been with the branch for 43 years.

“Before unveiling the plaque the Duke chatted with the volunteers about the work they do,” said Nigel Knight. “He seemed very interested in their different roles in the branch and the outreach work we are involved in.”

Last year Eastbourne branch had more than 17,000 contacts – nearly 13,000 by telephone, just over 800 face to face visits, over 350 contacts at outside venues, more than 2,400 emails and nearly 700 SMS messages.

Eastbourne works in partnership with other organisations to reduce suicides at Beachy Head and works with schools, universities and colleges, the Rebourne Centre for homeless and supports patients in the psychiatric ward at Eastbourne District General Hospital.   The branch’s prison team train and support listeners in Lewes prison and last year they received over 1,000 contacts from prisoners.

“Callers to the branch want to talk about a wide range of issues, including loneliness and lack of friends, sadness and depression, drug/alcohol dependency, mental health problems, financial worries,  homelessness,  gender confusion, self-harm, relationship problems, bereavement  and suicidal feelings,” said Nigel. 

Eastbourne has 94 volunteers aged between 19 and 86, and 17 support volunteers who fundraise, undertake clerical and admin jobs and collect statistics. 

Eastbourne branch first opened on 1 February 1965 in a room attached to a local church. It has been based at the Haven since 1990.  

Samaritans answered 5.23m calls for help in 2013, our highest number ever. Our volunteers are here round-the-clock, every single day of the year, to support people when they are struggling. We have 201 branches and 21,200 volunteers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. People can contact Samaritans by phone on: 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or find the details for your local branch at www.samaritans.org.

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Notes to editors:

Picture List:

  1. From Left to Right: Ralph Homer, Beryl Healy, Nigel Knight, The Duke of Gloucester and Sara Stonor


  • The suicide rates for the UK, England and Wales are based on the deaths from self-harm and undetermined intent, combined, for individuals over 15 years of age. Figures are for deaths of this kind which are registered in a calendar year, rather than occurring in that year. 
  • For more information please contact the press office on 020 83948300 (out of hours) 079 4380 9162) or email press@samaritans.org

Link to Samaritans media guidelines: http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/press/Samaritans%20Media%20Guidelines%202013%20UK.pdf