Campaigner and broadcaster Esther Rantzen helped mark 25 years of the counselling service, ChildLine, at a celebratory lunch yesterday.

The television star joined 130 guests at the Borehamwood and Elstree NSPCC annual lunch at Shenley Cricket Centre, in Radlett Lane.

In 1986, Ms Rantzen founded ChildLine, a free 24-hour counselling service for children and young people, which is run by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

She launched the service after she was involved in television programme ChildWatch, which aimed to look at ways to stop child abuse.

Esther also signed copies of her new book, Running Out Of Tears, which will raise money towards the charity.

The book features memories from young adults who rang ChildLine when they were younger as victims of abuse or violence.

Esther said: "I can proudly say the work of the NSPCC and ChildLine has transformed lives.

"What I mean by this is hope. Hope empowers us and gets us going.

"What I found out from writing my book and talking to these young adults is that the only thing that gave them hope and a life worth living was ChildLine and a friendly voice on the other end of the phone."

Among the young adults featured in the book are a fundraiser, social worker, teacher and a nurse who have now turned their lives around.

In its first year, ChildLine was able to counsel 23,000 children and five years ago joined together with the NSPCC to develop services, including employing more counsellors and shortening the waiting time for children calling in.

Ann Goddard, chairman of the Borehamwood and Elstree NSPCC branch, said: "We had a perfect day and it was an absolutely idyllic setting.

"Esther has made a crowning contribution to the success of the NSPCC and we are very honoured to be celebrating 25 triumphant years with her.

"Since its launch, ChildLine has managed to counsel around three million vulnerable children."

A raffle at the summer lunch also raised £780 towards NSPCC.

Mrs Goddard added: “Fundraising on the day was very successful and I was astounded at the generosity shown to such a worthy enterprise.”

The next event organised by Borehamwood and Elstree NSPCC branch is a garden party at Schopwick Place in Elstree High Street, on July 22.