Samaritan volunteers thrilled by invite to palace

Anne Cummins, Teresa Bell, and Mary McMahon

Three Samaritans volunteers from Ireland, including a self-confessed “royal watcher”, have been invited to Buckingham Palace.

Anne Cummings, Teresa Bell and Mary McMahon, were asked to attend the palace party in recognition of their dedication and commitment to the charity.

The trio from Sligo, Athlone and Dublin, will be all glammed up for the 70th birthday of Britain’s Prince of Wales that takes place just days after the royal wedding.

Together they will bring more than 70 years of volunteering to the party which celebrates the work of the charities and organisations that have Prince Charles as their patron. They were nominated by their branch manager for all the years spent giving emotional support to people most in need.

Ms Cummins, a self- confessed royal watcher since she was a child, has been a Sligo Samaritans volunteer for 33 years.

“I’m absolutely thrilled, honoured, surprised, charmed and delighted to be going, but I feel so many more people deserved it more than me,” she said. “I have always been a royal watcher. When I was very small I had a royal scrapbook. I have been to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards, but I never thought I’d be inside it. It’s amazing. It’s a wonderful opportunity. I’m so lucky.”

She said she is six weeks older than Charles. “I’m 70 in September as well, so I’ll see if we’ve both weathered the storm the same.”

Teresa Bell, who has been a volunteer with Athlone branch for 20 years, is glad she was sitting down when she got the call to say she was going to the party.

“It’s fantastic. It’s so important for Prince Charles to understand the work that we are doing,” she said.

Ms McMahon became a volunteer in Dublin 18 years ago after her friend lost a brother to suicide.

“She always said: ‘if only he had spoken to somebody’ and it always stuck with me. A few years later when I had more spare time I joined and I loved it.”

Irish regional director for Samaritans, Cindy O’Shea, said the three women embody the commitment, vision and dedication to those who are most vulnerable.

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