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UK's oldest author a good Samaritan

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 20, 2013


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A pensioner has become Britain's oldest first-time author after writing a book aged 94.

Retired minister Cyril Grant MBE began life wanting to be a journalist but after a failed interview decided to join the church.

But now the pensioner has finally found time to sit down and pen the book he has always wanted to write.

Mr Grant – who set up a branch of the Samaritans in his home city of Bristol – has written a book about the entertaining and unconventional life of a man of the cloth.

He said: "I was always interested in writing and as a very young man I wanted to be a journalist. I did have an interview for a job but I was turned down.

"That's when I decided to go to the ministry. I was happy as a minister but the writing bug never left me. And so here I am today, publishing my first book at the age of 94."

Mr Grant, who met his wife, Dolores, in California whilst travelling, brought the Samaritans to Bristol in the 1980s. He was later rewarded for his efforts with an MBE in 2012.

He said his Samaritans work was particularly rewarding.

"It's an extraordinary thing, being there and taking the calls from people who are so low that they're seriously contemplating taking their own life," he said.

"I've always just tried to really listen. To talk through the issues with them, and try to look for a way out that they may not have been able to see. It's a sort of negotiation between the caller and the Samaritan. You just hope that the support you've been able to give them has been enough to stop them going through with their suicide.

"But of course, you never really know whether you've been successful or not, because generally you never hear from them again.

"Over the years we have built a particularly special relationship with the bridge master at the Clifton Suspension Bridge. He keeps a careful eye out for people hanging around the bridge, who may be looking as if they're contemplating jumping. They have a dedicated room up there, where they take suicidal people, to sit them down and have a chat. Then they give us a call so we can talk to them.

"Sometimes we can be talking to people for hours. There was one occasion when I was on the phone to a person for seven hours – though that was an exceptional case."

This year Mr Grant found time to write the book called A Good Samaritan, with the help of his co-author John Funnell and publishing company SilverWood Books.

Mr Funnell said: "He is a dear friend and a thoroughly good man. It's been a pleasure to help him realise his dream."

Helent Hart, publishing director at SilverWood Books, added: "Cyril is an amazing person – vibrant and warm. It's an honour to have been able to get to know him and learn more about his life and works."

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