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  1. ITV Report

Britain's longest serving Samaritan collects his MBE

An 83-year-old Samaritans volunteer has called for action on reducing the suicide rate among middle-aged men as he picked up an MBE.

Alan Woodhouse, from Wirral, has been helping people for almost 60 years.

He received the gong for services to vulnerable people in Merseyside at a Buckingham Palace ceremony.

Alan Woodhouse after he was awarded an MBE by the Prince of Wales. Credit: Press Association.

The pensioner and former teacher has been a listening volunteer for around 57 years at the Samaritans' Liverpool branch, which he helped set up in 1960.

He has trained hundreds of new recruits, raised vital funds and is always ready to help his colleagues.

Alan Woodhouse from Wallasey is made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by the Prince of Wales. Credit: Press Association.

After receiving his MBE, he said: "We need to do something about finding a means of reducing the suicide rate amongst middle-aged men, because that is far too high.

"Addiction, loneliness, sense of a lack of value, joblessness, poverty. All these and, of course, depressive illness which is an enormous problem.

"And it's a problem that we're really able to help the medical profession with in the sense that when doctors can't see their depressed patients very often ... so what happens to the depressed patient?

"He rings the Samaritans. We can't cure depression, but we can give the comfort."

Mr Woodhouse, who is the charity's longest-serving volunteer, also hailed the importance of emails and a 24-hour service, particularly during the night.

"A lot of the highest distress takes place when people are on their own and it's dark, and they're lonely," he said.

Speaking at the end of last year, Mr Woodhouse said: "To anyone thinking about volunteering I'd say 'do it, it will enrich your life'.

"On every shift I've done there's been a moment that has left me with a sense of purpose, knowing that you are doing something meaningful."