The Prince of Wales has celebrated the heroic efforts of the Samaritans as he told volunteers “you are such an amazing credit to this country”.
Charles, patron of the Samaritans, visited the charity’s Gloucester and District Branch to celebrate its 50th anniversary and hear about its recent work.
The heir to throne chatted with branch volunteers over a cup of tea, served in a Samaritans’ mug and with – just as the prince likes it – a spoonful of local honey.
Charles was given a tour of the centre and met staff in its busy operations room.
As he unveiled a plaque and cut a celebratory cake, the prince spoke of his pride to be involved with such a “remarkable organisation”.
He told the crowd of volunteers: “You are such an amazing credit to this country in terms of what you do so many of you, all the time, for so long.
“You are, if I may say so, the absolute backbone of what is required and are here for people who otherwise wouldn’t get the help they need.”
The prince added: “All I can say, for what it’s worth, is thank you for giving up your precious time and psychological contribution.
“I can imagine how emotionally wearing it must be.
“The fact that you do it is fantastic. Thank you, thank you.
“And I hope this anniversary will remind you just how important you all are.”
He was introduced to Kathy Harding, 75, from Ledbury, Herefordshire, who has volunteered with the charity for more than 50 years.
She said afterwards: “It’s been a really tough year with Covid, people have been really struggling.
“The prince’s visit has been a real lift, a real boost.
“He knows so much about how we operate.”
Charles was presented with an orange and yellow Samaritan Rose for his acclaimed garden at Highgrove at nearby Tetbury.