News Releases

Brian Blessed urges South West Trains passengers to 'dig deep' and help Samaritans this Xmas

14 Dec 2012

·    Boisterous British actor lends his support to Samaritans fundraising day
·    Charity day at London Waterloo on Tuesday 18 December
·    Free mince pies for passengers


South West Trains passengers travelling through London Waterloo on Tuesday 18 December will be treated to a booming announcement from Brian Blessed, as the famous British actor lends his support to a fundraising day in support of Samaritans.

Throughout the day on Tuesday 18 December, Brian Blessed will be urging passengers travelling through the UK’s busiest station to “dig deep” and “please oh please” spare a few coins for Samaritans. Volunteers from the charity will be collecting at the station throughout the day and will work alongside South West Trains managers, who will be handing out complimentary mince pies to passengers during the afternoon.

The idea came about after passengers tweeted Brian Blessed – who lives on the South West Trains patch – to suggest he recorded an announcement for the train operator. South West Trains quickly got to work with Samaritans and came up with idea for a charity fundraising day at Waterloo station with the train operator also donating Mr Blessed’s fee to Samaritans to help support their vital work.

Brian Blessed said: “The Samaritans are heroes. We are all in this together and we are here to help each other. If we stop caring about each other we are lost.”

Samaritans is halfway through a five-year partnership with Network Rail to reduce suicides on the railways, this is the first time that the rail industry has come together to work on a project of this kind. 

Tim Shoveller, Managing Director of the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, added: “It’s great to be working with Brian Blessed – who is one of our regular commuters – on such a worthwhile fundraising day at Waterloo.

“Through our joint alliance with Network Rail, we work in partnership with Samaritans on a number of preventative initiatives to reduce the number of suicides on the rail network. These include having additional specially-trained staff on our stations and through awareness campaigns like We’re in Your Corner, aimed at reaching out to vulnerable people, encouraging them to seek help and consider calling Samaritans.

“We’re really pleased that Brian Blessed has given his support to Samaritans and we hope our passengers will enjoy hearing his booming voice making special announcements throughout the day at Waterloo.  To get passengers into the Christmas spirit, our staff will also be handing out complimentary mince pies and we hope this will help people to be even more generous when considering whether to spare a few coins for this worthy charity.” 

Rachel Kirby-Rider, Samaritans’ Director of Fundraising said: “We would like to thank Brian Blessed for generously lending his support to Samaritans. Let’s hope this festive message and our presence at Waterloo station will not only raise vital funds for the charity, but will remind people that our service is available round-the-clock throughout the festive period.” 

All funds raised throughout the day will be donated to Samaritans.  South West Trains, part of the Stagecoach Group, will also be making a special donation to the charity in lieu of Brian Blessed’s fee.  The announcement was created in partnership with Amey, which provides customer information and public address systems, and Wise Buddah studios.

For many years, Stagecoach Group has invested between 0.5% and 1% of the profits from its transport operations in the UK and North America in good causes. Hundreds of thousands of pounds a year go to help health charities, education campaigns and local community projects. Stagecoach also gives match funding to complement many fund-raising activities by its employees, as well as providing significant in-kind support by donating free transport and assisting with employee secondments to charitable projects.

Ends


Notes to Editors
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About South West Trains
On 30 April 2012, South West Trains and Network Rail formed a joint Alliance to deliver train services from London Waterloo to the south and south west of England, which is one of the busiest rail networks in Europe, operating around 1,700 trains a day. This new joint Alliance is a first for the UK rail industry
South West Trains is part of Stagecoach Group, a leading international public transport group with extensive operations in the UK, United States and Canada. Stagecoach employs around 35,000 people, and operates bus, coach, rail, and tram services.

About Stagecoach Group
Stagecoach Group is a leading international public transport group, with extensive operations in the UK, United States and Canada. The Group employs around 35,000 people, and operates bus, coach, train, and tram services.Stagecoach is one of UK’s biggest bus and coach operators with around 7,800 buses and coaches. Around 2.5 million passengers travel on Stagecoach's buses every day on a network stretching from south-west England to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The Group’s business includes major city bus operations in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Cambridge. Low-cost coach service, megabus.com, operates between around 60 towns and cities across the UK.
Stagecoach is a major UK rail operator, running the South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains networks. It has a 49% shareholding in Virgin Rail Group, which operates the West Coast inter-city rail franchise.
Stagecoach also operates the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield.
In North America, Stagecoach operates around 2,900 buses and coaches in the United States and Canada. Megabus.com links around 100 key locations in North America. Stagecoach is also involved in operating commuter and transit services, contracted bus services, charters, sightseeing tours and a small number of school bus services.

About Samaritans
Samaritans’ vision is that fewer people die by suicide. People contact Samaritans when they are struggling to cope and need someone to talk to. More than 20,000 Samaritans’ volunteers are available round the clock, every day of the year. The helpline provides a safe place to talk and all conversations are private. To contact Samaritans call 08457 90 90 90, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

About Amey
Amey is a leading UK infrastructure services provider with more than 11,000 staff. The company works across three main markets - Inter Urban, Local Government and Built Environment, which are supported by our award-winning consultancy division. Amey delivers services in the highways, roads, schools, waste, rail, fleet solutions, workspace, street lighting, commercial, housing and aviation sectors. By offering a complete life-cycle solution for services, we maximise efficiencies for our customers.