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Esther Rantzen

The founder of ChildLine and Silver Line talks loneliness, loyalty and living life to the full.

I’ve been working with ChildLine since 1986 so I know about the power of the telephone and how it can transform lives.

My husband died in 2000 and ten years later I moved into a two bedroom flat and it was the first time I had lived on my own. And I didn’t like it. No matter how busy my day was, I was coming back to a dark flat, with no one to talk to, and I was a bit shocked. I wrote about it in a national newspaper and I got inundated with responses.

I realised there was a stigma: people feel ashamed of telling anyone they’re lonely. And I suddenly had that light bulb moment: could the answer be another helpline? And that’s how Silver Line came about.

Esther RantzenAge UK performs an invaluable service – it’s a terrific charity, it’s brilliant.

I have always loved communication and talking to audiences; I loved listening to people’s stories. I suppose I’ve always been solution focussed. You have to leave people better off than you find them.

My ambition is to be at my grandson’s 21st birthday. He’s three. I want to help him cut the cake and raise a glass to his health.

I’m not going to retire, I’m going to prioritise. The time I spend with my children and grandchildren is much more precious for me.


Support lines

  • For advice, support and friendship, please call Age UK on 0800 678 1174
  • For 24-hour information and support, call Silver Line: 0800 470 8090

Last updated: Oct 16 2017

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