Helpline pioneer Esther named a Dame

Esther Rantzen has been named a Dame.
Esther Rantzen has been named a Dame.
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Television presenter and campaigner Esther Rantzen said her “greatest wish” was that her husband had lived to see her become a Dame, as she and other high profile names made the New Year’s Honours List.

She will receive the honour for services to children and older people, having established telephone helplines for both children in distress or danger and older people experiencing isolation.

She was married to documentary maker Desmond Wilcox for 30 years. He died in 2000, and she set up The Silver Line, a helpline for older people, after writing an article about her own experiences of loneliness.

Dame Esther, 74, said: “I am thrilled that this honour recognises the contribution made by ChildLine and The Silver Line in transforming lives, and I am delighted that the talented teams at both charities have also been recognised for their inspirational work and devotion to the most vulnerable children and older people in our society.

“I feel completely committed to the work of both charities and it is a wonderful honour to receive in my 75th year. My greatest wish is that Desmond could be here to share this news - he would have been so excited.”

Earlier this year she spoke about the impact of loneliness on older people - and she backed The Yorkshire Post’s own award-winning campaign to highlight the affects of loneliness on people living here - saying that it erodes self-esteem and confidence and can often follow the loss of a partner.

She said: “I know about that because I wrote about my own loneliness and I have come to the conclusion that loneliness, which absolutely is not the same as isolation, is in my view associated with loss.”

A broadcaster best known for presenting BBC series That’s Life!, she set up ChildLine in 1986 to provide support to children and young people experiencing neglect and abuse, and the service has helped more than three million children.

In 2006 ChildLine became part of the NSPCC, and in 2009 it launched a website which received 2.4 million visits in 2012-13.

Dame Esther received a CBE in 2006 for services to young people in recognition of the work of the charity.

Another TV personality, James Corden, declared he was “thrilled, overwhelmed and honoured” to be awarded an OBE for his services to drama. The actor, writer and soon-to-be US chat show host joked that his mother was already concerned about her outfit for the date with royalty.

The 36-year-old father of two has become a familiar figure for appearances in BBC comedy drama Gavin & Stacey, his stewardship of quiz show A League Of Their Own, hosting the Brit Awards and movie roles among others.

He said: “I feel very lucky to be born in a country where creativity is both encouraged and valued.”