Samaritans stalwarts who have clocked up over 345 years of service are honoured

LONG SERVICE: Photo shows several of those receiving long service awards at the Samaritans' annual meeting

LONG SERVICE: Photo shows several of those receiving long service awards at the Samaritans' annual meeting

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A group of dedicated Samaritan volunteers have been honoured for clocking up an amazing 345 years of service between them.

The caring locals all give their time to the Pendle, Burnley, Craven and Rossendale branch of the Samaritans, which has its base in Nelson town centre, and last year took more than 36,000 contacts, including telephone calls, emails, texts and visits in person, from those in need of emotional support.

At the charity’s recent annual meeting the team were thanked for their dedication to helping others by chairman Mrs Catherine Scott and handed an engraved glass to mark the achievement.

“We’re so proud of our volunteers,” she said.

“They’ve made a difference to countless lives over their time with the Samaritans and have helped so many new volunteers through their extensive training.

“The Samaritans is so much more than simply a charity. As volunteers we support and value each other and the many different roles we play to help the public, whether it be through taking calls, helping with fund-raising or awareness.”

The volunteer clocking up the longest service was Joyce Thompson, from Padiham, who has put in an incredible 42 years with the Samaritans and was a founder member of the branch in 1973.

She said: “I heard about the Samaritans through friends and attended my first meeting in Nelson with a minister from Padiham. He never went again but I’ve been here ever since.

“I recall when the branch first started we only had two oil drums and a plank for chairs and had so few volunteers we could only open during the day.”

A retired nurse and midwife, who ended her career as a deputy matron, Joyce recalls the Samaritans original befriending service, where volunteers visited people in their own homes, and has taken on board the many technological changes to the service over the years. I’ve met so many lovely people through the Samaritans,” she added.

Also honoured were Bill Riley (27 years); Dorothy Yates (24 years); Doreen Yate (35 years); Dorothy Ormrod (29 years); Maureen Dennison (31 years); Maureen Saint-Stephens (30 years); Katrina Mattock (36 years); Pauline Hirons (27 years); Rachael King (31 years); Arthur Bickerstaffe (33 years).