Athlone woman heads to Buckingham Palace

Thursday, 17th May, 2018 12:50pm

Athlone woman heads to Buckingham Palace

Teresa Bell

A Samaritans volunteer from Athlone will be celebrating in style next week after receiving an invite to Buckingham Palace for her dedication and commitment to the charity.

Teresa Bell – who has been a Samaritans volunteer for 20 years - will be donning her posh frock for the 70th Birthday of Britain’s Prince of Wales on Tuesday, May 22, just days before the royal wedding.

I couldn’t believe it I got a call to say I was going – it was just wonderful. I was glad I was sitting down, it’s fantastic,” she said.

It’s so important for Prince Charles to understand the work that we are doing, and it’s a great opportunity for us to network with other charities. It’s a lovely recognition of our work and it’s so special to be invited to his birthday party.”

I was so pleased that volunteers from the Republic of Ireland are getting an opportunity to go. There’s always a possibility that a Branch Director in Northern Ireland might get an invitation to Hillsborough or for a royal visit, but I felt it was marvellous that all volunteers were getting an invite to his party.”

Teresa joined the Samaritans as she felt she wanted to do something for other people.

I saw a very small advert for the Samaritans helpline number in the local newspaper and asked around what they did. Then I visited the branch to find out more.

I look back and can say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, if not the best decision.

It’s hugely rewarding being a Samaritan. The relief that people have when they are able to talk about something that’s worrying them, haunting them or keeping them awake is immense. They have so much gratitude and recognise our effort. But I believe in it so much it’s no effort at all.”

Teresa will travel to London with two other lucky volunteers, Mary McMahon from Dublin and Anne Cummins from Sligo.

The three will attend the prestigious gathering after being nominated by their Branch Directors for their 70 plus years in giving emotional support to people most in need. The event celebrates the work of the charities and organisations that Prince Charles is Patron to.

Teresa was nominated by Branch director Aisling Curley for her ongoing and longstanding commitment to Samaritans at branch level and regional level. She is a Deputy Regional Director for a second term and was previously Branch director in Athlone and festivals.

Aisling, a Samaritans volunteer, who is responsible for Samaritans in Athlone, is delighted that Teresa will attend the Prince’s birthday party next week.

Teresa has worked tirelessly to support both callers and volunteers in the Athlone branch and will be a great ambassador for Samaritans in Buckingham Palace. Everyone in the branch is so proud of her,” she said.

She has over 20 years’ volunteering experience with Samaritans and during this time has made an outstanding contribution to the branch and region.”

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 in the UK and Ireland calls for help.

Samaritans in Ireland answered over 625,000 calls for help in 2017 and replied to 25,000 text messages.

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