A COMMEMORATIVE bench was today (6) formally dedicated in Ealing’s Lammas Park to celebrate half a century of work by volunteers at Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow branch of Samaritans.

Since 21 January 1972, more than 2,000 volunteers have answered the phones to provide a confidential service for people seeking emotional support.

Heena Johnson, the 17th director of the Samaritans branch, said: “The dedication of this bench brings to an end the celebration of our first 50 years.

“With its wonderful view of the park, we hope it will provide a quiet place for people to take the time to talk - and to listen.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was performed by Julie Bentley, chief executive of Samaritans UK and Ireland.

A plaque on the bench reads: “When you need to talk, we will be there to listen. We have been doing it for 50 years. Ealing, Hammersmith & Hounslow Samaritans.”

The bench can be found near the Elers Road entrance to Lammas Park.

The branch, based in South Ealing, also takes part in the Rail Industry Suicide prevention programme.

It also runs the Listener Scheme at Wormwood Scrubs, where a group of prisoners is trained to offer emotional support to other prisoners experiencing feelings of distress.

All Samaritans branches are individual charities run entirely by volunteers.

Ealing, Hammersmith & Hounslow Samaritans (registered charity number 1173588) is only able to continue to support those in despair and distress thanks to donations, legacies and fund-raising.