A Newark Northgate station worker has won the first ever Samaritans/Network Rail Lifesaver Award at the 2012 Railstaff Awards.
Sharon Willet of East Coast trains has been recognised after her actions helped safeguard a vulnerable young man.
Seven months after completing a free suicide prevention course ran by the Samaritans, Sharon noticed a young man in distress on the platform. She engaged him in conversation and after about 30 minutes he agreed to let Sharon ring his parents to come and collect him. He is now much recovered and attending a further education college locally.
Sharon said: “I really feel overwhelmed. I was just being myself because I’m a mum and you see a young man distressed and it’s just natural reactions really that kick in. The Samaritans course gives you the confidence to approach someone because sometimes people think that if I approach them I could say the wrong thing and it could go another way.”
Tom O’Connor, managing director of the Rail Media Group which organises the RailStaff Awards, said: “Sharon Willet is an example to us all of a kind, caring and compassionate person who puts kindness into action and saves lives. This is a well deserved award and we wish her every continuing success.”
Peter Skelton, who manages the team at Newark, said: “She is always on the lookout for anyone who appears confused or distressed and makes herself available to listen to them and help them in any way she can.
“Sharon is always willing to listen to and help any of her colleagues and friends who may be experiencing difficult times.”
Sharon stood out from 24 other nominees with the number of people that rang, wrote and emailed in for her to win. The award was doubly special as unbeknown to judges on the evening the winning Rail Trainer of the Year for 2012 was Steve Tollerton who ran the training course that Sharon attended.
Network Rail and the Samaritans are committed to trying to reduce the amount of suicides on Britain’s railways over a five-year partnership and have so far in the first two years intervened in over 40 cases where people have contemplated suicide.
The Samaritans is a confidential emotional support service for anyone in the UK and Ireland. The service is available 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide.
Volunteers offer support by responding to phone calls, emails and letters. Alternatively people can drop in to a branch to have a face to face meeting. Across the UK you can call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for the price of a local call. In the Republic of Ireland call 1850 60 90 90.