War veteran champions charity helpline for lonely

Former POW Jack King in his painting studio at home in Eastbourne. Re. Silverline charity Picture - David Bebber SUS-150625-155743001
Former POW Jack King in his painting studio at home in Eastbourne. Re. Silverline charity Picture - David Bebber SUS-150625-155743001

An artistic veteran from Eastbourne is asking for local support to gain The Silver Line Helpline national recognition for the ‘incredible’ support it gives him.

Jack King aged 93, called the helpline after feeling lonely and in need of someone to talk to.

He is now a community champion for the free telephone helpline designed for lonely and isolated older people like himself. Regularly appearing in adverts and promotional films for the service, Jack is campaigning for votes for The Silver Line Helpline.

The charity is in the running to be named the UK’s Best Voluntary/Charity project in the National Lottery Awards, the annual search for the UK’s favourite lottery-funded projects.

Jack, who was captured as a Japanese prisoner of war, was forced to build The Death Railway between Bangkok and Burma, throughout WWII. He met his wife Audrey at the station on his way home after the war and following a whirlwind courtship they had a happy family life with three sons.

Everything changed for Jack after Audrey died.

He said, “She’s not the sort of person you ever get over really.”

A talented painter and writer, Jack found himself getting increasingly lonely following his wife’s death and due to a shrapnel wound from 1941 he finds it difficult to get about. Except for a weekly visit from a family friend, Jack spent most of his time alone. After seeing publicity for The Silver Line Helpline, Jack decided to call.

He was matched with a volunteer called Hannah who calls him each week for a chat.

He said, “She’s a barrel of fun. Just to have a chat with someone, to hear a voice other than one’s own voice does mean a lot. She has become a friend.”

Available every day and night of the year offering information, friendship and advice, This Silver Line Helpline provides a unique lifeline for the most vulnerable older people in the UK.

Sophie Andrews, chief executive of The Silver Line Helpline, said, “We are delighted to have reached the finals of the National Lottery Awards. We wouldn’t have been able to set up The Silver Line Helpline without National Lottery funding and be able to make a difference to the lives of so many older people like Jack. It’s easy to vote, so please vote for us - it would be wonderful to receive national recognition for the trust that so many older people have placed in us and for all the time and support that our staff and volunteers give to them.”

This Silver Line Helpline is competing against six other organisations to be crowned the winner of the Voluntary/Charity category in the National Lottery Awards.

Winners of the seven National Lottery Awards categories will get a £2,000 cash prize, an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy and attend a star-studded Awards ceremony, broadcast on BBC One in September.

To vote for The Silver Line Helpline visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or call 0844 836 9717.

Voting closes midnight on July 29.

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