Arsenal and England football star Paul Merson: Samaritans saved me, as he speaks at Letchworth fundraiser

Paul Merson

Paul Merson - Credit: Archant

A footballing hero came to Letchworth to speak at a Samaritans fundraising auction last week.

Paul Merson and The Samaritans Alan Pancutt

Paul Merson and The Samaritans Alan Pancutt - Credit: Archant

Former Arsenal and England forward Paul Merson was guest speaker at a sportsman’s dinner at Letchworth Hall Hotel organised by the charity which provides 24-hour emotional support to vulnerable people in North Herts.

The Gunners legend – who scored 99 goals and won two league title medals for North London club – told the Comet: “I’m privileged to be here helping the Samaritans, who do an awful lot of great work here in North Herts.

“I rang them a lot of times when I had my problems back around 1992/93.

“It was always great someone was at the end of a phone to talk to, so it’s nice to give something back.

“It’s fair to say they saved my life around 1993.

“It’s one o’clock in the morning on a Sunday night and you just want to talk to someone and have a calming influence to bring you back down, to make you appreciate life.

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“What the Samaritans do is massively helpful. You could put your head in the sand and hope things go away, but the name of the game is to talk, and to have someone listen.

“I’d say pick the phone up and talk to them.”

Alan Pancutt from the Samaritans added: “The emotional care we give to people makes a difference. You can’t measure how important the work we do is.

“Our work is completely and utterly confidential. It’s anonymous, and no-one will judge the any person who calls us.

“We’re just an outlet to help people.

“It’s absolutely wonderful Paul Merson has come to support us. If it’s an honour for him to be here, it’s doubly so for us.

“And as an Arsenal fan who used to be a Highbury regular when he played for us it’s also great!”

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with The Samaritans please call 01462 45533 or email