Samaritans volunteers set off for royal cuppa
Samaritans volunteers will be donning their posh frocks and suits, as they gear up to attend His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’, 70th birthday bash on Tuesday 22 May 2018.
39 volunteers will bring more than 900 years of volunteering experience to the palace party, which celebrates the charities and organisations that Prince Charles supports with his patronage.
The lucky volunteers, who will be tucking into a sarnie and sipping a brew with royalty, are attending the prestigious party after being nominated for their commitment and dedication by volunteering colleagues.
Known as the bedrock of the Brighton branch, Sheila Coldicott was nominated for her tireless dedication and fun loving, no-nonsense approach. A listening volunteer for 32 years, Sheila can’t wait to have a look around the famous grounds.
“It’s such an honour to have been chosen” she said. “I’ve heard about garden parties and seen them on the TV and suddenly I’m going to be part of one, alongside other Samaritans volunteers.”
Over the years as Patron, Prince Charles has met many Samaritans volunteers and supporters and enjoyed a cup of tea from a Samaritans mug as part of the charity’s 60th birthday celebrations in 2013.
Bury Samaritans volunteer Darran Latham (36), is still in shock. “It’s definitely becoming more real now that the invite is here. I’m a bit nervous!” he said.
Prince Charles actual birthday falls in November but the Buckingham Palace event hopes to take advantage of the better weather. Darran will be joining Prince Charles in the birthday stakes, as he celebrates his a few days before the party. “It’s a great way to top off my own birthday celebrations. A truly British affair and I’ll be part of it.”
Samaritans is a charity that means a lot to Darran. Having struggled with alcohol in the past and been homeless, he came out the other side and became a volunteer three years ago.
Joining Sheila and Darran is Peter Grove, who has been at the Solihull branch since 1977, responding to calls for help on text, emails and letters. After being affected by a friend who tried to take his life, Peter wanted to help others so became a Samaritans volunteer.
“I love having the opportunity to meet different people and I believe that we make a difference to the people we help. I feel so happy to have been nominated to attend the party.”
For Barnsley volunteer Norma Horsley-Brown (54), life has been challenging over the past few years after suffering a near-fatal stroke in 2015, which she wasn’t expected to pull through.
After being in a coma, Norma lost her memory and had to learn to walk and speak again. Throughout the hard fight to get well, Norma was always focused on returning to the role she loved, being a Samaritans volunteer.
“The road back to recovery has been long and painful as my short-term memory didn’t return until last year,” she said. Having re-trained as a listening volunteer, Norma is honoured to be attending the party. “I can’t understand why my name has been put forward, but I’m honoured to go. I got my outfit and hat as soon as I found out! “
Bob Howe, who has volunteered at the Leeds branch for seventeen years, will have the grand job of representing Samaritans in a group photograph with the future King, alongside representatives from each of the Prince’s patronages. Bob said: “First and foremost Samaritans is about helping our callers. I’m looking forward to wishing Prince Charles happy birthday. His support helps us raise the profile of the charity and without the public’s donations we can’t help those most in need.”
The volunteers will be joined at the Palace by Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland, and its Chair of Trustees, Jenni McCartney: “Thanks so much to Prince Charles for everything he has done to support Samaritans. This promises to be a wonderful event and a great birthday celebration. It’s also an important way for us to pay tribute to just some of wonderful and dedicated volunteers.”
Samaritans volunteers will be presenting Prince Charles with a personalised photo gift which aims to represent the number of calls for help Samaritans has answered since he became Patron. Over the 19 years as Patron, Samaritans has responded to approximately 96.8 million calls for help.
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