Esther Rantzen has been a cheerful and energetic presence on our TV screens for decades.
She began hosting That’s Life!, the popular magazine show, 45 years ago in 1973.
Latterly Dame Esther has been increasingly associated with charity work. One of the key causes that she espouses is that of loneliness suffered by older people.
This debilitating problem is all the more tragic given that people who experience it can often be too reticent to complain.
It is easy for people with busy lives to forget about those who are socially stranded, but we all could end up alone.
Recent studies have also shown that loneliness is a major problem among young people, who often feel shut out from the excitement that they see their peer group living on their mobile phones and websites. Loneliness in young people can be particularly problematic because they might grow into lonely middle-aged and elderly people too.
For older sufferers, Dame Esther’s charity Silver Line is doing a vital thing: providing a confidential helpline to call, where they might get at least the solace of a friendly chat.
The volunteers in charities like that, and like the Samaritans, are carrying out acts of great goodness.
Loneliness can be more a problem in rich, atomised societies than poorer ones with a sense of community. Maybe the internet age will make it easier for everyone, wherever they are, to find new friends and like minded people.