19207A Newcastle couple have won a brand new Vauxhall Viva in an auction that raised more than £16,500 for Samaritans of Tyneside.

At Samaritans of Tyneside’s 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner, held at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead, John and Lynn Joyce took home the brand new car, which was donated by ​Bristol Street Motors Vauxhall Newcastle.

The team at the Scotswood Road dealership donated the vehicle to show their support for the charity, which has had a presence in the region for half a century and is part of a national network of 201 branches. The service is run by a team of highly trained volunteers who give of their time to help others in need of a listening ear.

John, who is retired and lives with his wife Lynn in High Heaton, has volunteered for Samaritans of Tyneside for over five years. As well as being a listening volunteer, John is part of the training team at the Tyneside branch.

Samaritans of Tyneside offers support to anyone in distress and needing someone to talk to. Samaritans volunteersare available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Mental health issues area prevalent issue in the North East and the region has the highest incidence of suicide in the country. Samaritans of Tyneside received 44,000 phone calls, email and text messages in 2015 from people in distress needing to talk.

The 50th anniversary celebration has been supported by Bristol Street Motors, part of Vertu Motors PLC, as well as other local organisations, which have donated auction items including a visit to the House of Lords, a week in a cottage in Northumberland, a holiday in the South of France and many others.

Mark Flynn, general manager at Bristol Street Motors Vauxhall Newcastle, said: “It’s fantastic to support a local charity that makes such an immense impact on people’s lives.

“Volunteers like John work tirelessly to ensure the people of the North East have someone to talk to when they’re in need.

“The team at Bristol Street Motors are very pleased to hear that the auction, raffle and other fund-raising activities successfully raised more than £16,500 for Samaritans of Tyneside.”

John Joyce said: “I am delighted to have won the auction. I have witnessed first-hand the great work done by the volunteers at Samaritans of Tyneside and the money raised from this event will allow us to continue delivering the level of care and attention we are known for.

“Winning the brand new Vauxhall Viva, kindly donated by the local dealership, is the icing on the cake for me!”

The Samaritans of Tyneside can be contacted by phone, e-mail or text and can even be seen face to face. Contact Samaritans can be contacted by phone: 116-123 (freecall); text: 07725-909090; email: jo@samaritans.org. Samaritans of Tyneside is based at 15 Portland Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle. NE2 1QQ. For more information about volunteering email newcastle@samaritans.org.