Former Urmston Grammar Head of Humanities, Hilary Forrest, may well have been retired for some time now and be aged 72, but she is still doing sterling work for The Samaritans. In fact, she has been a Samaritans volunteer for a remarkable 50 years!
There may have been a lot of changes over the last 50 years, particularly technology-wise. People now contact Samaritans by email, as well as by phone, for instance. Certain issues were far harder to discuss 50 years ago too: single mums were frowned upon; and gay issues were taboo. And committing suicide was a criminal offence at one time.
But, says Hilary in a recent interview: while technology may change, “Human nature doesn’t change. People may not have a job; they may have money worries, or relationship issues. The biggest problem is probably isolation. Whatever the era, lack of confidence and depression don’t change, they knock people sideways.”
But, of course, the crucial point about Samaritans, said Hilary, is: “We’re here to listen.”
While much of her Samaritans work is anonymous, Hilary has achieved celebrity in other ways, having appeared on T.V.’s Mastermind and having lent her name to a character on T.V. soap Coronation Street (late 1990s)!
And, of course, Hillary is fondly remembered by former students and by staff past and present as a wonderful teacher and character in her own right.