Friends of Samaritans hold final event after four decades and £120k

The Sidmouth Friends of the Samaritans held their AGM this week. Pictured are chairman Sue Kensdale

The Sidmouth Friends of the Samaritans held their AGM this week. Pictured are chairman Sue Kensdale with from left Ron Harbour (treasurer), vice chairman Gerald Hayne and Denis Jones (sec). Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 3446-08-14SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to - Credit: Archant

The loss of Sidmouth’s Samaritans support group will have a ‘major impact’ on the running of the service, says the leader of the charity’s Exeter, Mid and East Devon branch.

The Sidmouth Friends of Samaritans will fold after four decades tomorrow (Saturday) as the committee has not been able to find younger members to take it over.

The group was formed in 1973 by Betty Easey and has raised £120,000 to date.

Betty, 92, set up the committee by co-opting her neighbours to raise money for the charity’s local branch. She chaired the committee for 40 years until 2013.

Ken Clifford, a committee member, said: “Betty was not above recruiting, in the street, any newly-retired person whom she thought was up to the job. She got everybody and everyone involved.”

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Helen Crossfield, director of the Exeter, Mid and East Devon branch of the Samaritans, said the group’s demise would be a big loss.

Mrs Crossfield said: “They have done an absolutely incredible job and it will be most missed both financially and in terms of having the support. It has a major impact. We are all volunteers, so the money goes towards the up-keep of the building.”

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Last year alone, the branch received 23,411 phone calls, 3,648 texts and 2,394 emails from people in need of support.

Denis Jonas, secretary for the Sidmouth group, praised the efforts of all the volunteers and residents over the years.

He said: “The committee would like to express their sincere thanks to everyone who has supported our fundraising efforts over many years.”

The group will hold its final Christmas coffee morning at the Methodist Hall, in High Street, from 10am to noon tomorrow.

Members say everything must go from the stalls, including bric-a-brac, books, toys and household goods.

Entry costs £1 and includes a cup of tea/coffee and a mince pie.

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