Celebrating 60 Years of Listening in Cheltenham

60th Anniversary Dinner

150 volunteers and supporters of Cheltenham and District Samaritans joined together to celebrate 60 years to the day since the branch first opened to take calls.

Felicity Varah-Harding, daughter of Samaritans founder Chad Varah and now ambassador and honorary President joined proceedings, as well as Keith Leslie, chair of trustees.

Cheltenham Samaritans Director Andrew Goddard reflected on the opening of Cheltenham Samaritans branch 60 years ago. In the first year, the branch had 139 callers, with the first call being answered by founder Canon Hugh Evans Hopkins. Last year, Cheltenham Samaritans branch supported over 20,000 people, over the phone, by email, online chat, face-to-face, and in the local community.

Felicity described the foundation of Samaritans by her father, Chad Varah. She reflected on the fact that every ten seconds, a Samaritans volunteer answers a call. Last year, there wasn’t a single second when a Samaritan was not on the phone to a caller needing a kind person to listen to them. She thanked the volunteers who provide this much-needed service.

As well as thanking listening volunteers, Andy thanked the Friends of Cheltenham Samaritans, without whose fundraising we would not be able to operate. Leigh Norwood, chair of the Friends, presented Andy with a generous donation to support the ongoing running of the branch.

Ordinary People doing Extraordinary things

Cheltenham Samaritans are looking for new volunteers to join its team. Could you spare 3 hours a week to volunteer? As a listening volunteer you get the chance to make a real difference to someone’s future. Regular information sessions are held where you can find out more about the training that’s provided and what it’s like to be a Samaritan. Further details about information sessions dates and how to volunteer can be found on the Cheltenham Samaritans website Volunteer with us | Samaritans


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