HAMPSHIRE TV celebrity Esther Rantzen has opened a new multi-million-pound housing scheme in the New Forest.

Dame Esther, who has a home in the Forest, attended the opening of Churchill Retirement Living’s new Knights Lodge development in North Close, Lymington.

Knights Lodge comprises 41 privately-owned retirement flats and shared facilities designed exclusively for the over-60s.

Daily Echo:

Dame Esther, 79, took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony as well as chatting to some of the apartment owners and sharing anecdotes from her long career.

She is best known for presenting the consumer protection show That’s Life!, which ran for 21 years.

The programme was a mixture of hard-hitting investigations, satire and light entertainment. It highlighted several life-and-death issues, including the number of child deaths caused by the shortage of organ donors.

Britain's telephone helpline for children, Childline, was launched in the wake of problems highlighted by That's Life!

In 2012 Dame Esther created a new charity, The Silver Line, which was formed to tackle loneliness in old age. Over the past seven years it has taken millions of calls from OAPs - many of them bereaved - who had previously suffered in silence.

The veteran broadcaster, who was widowed 18 years ago, has often admitted to feeling lonely herself but also champions the positive side of getting older.

Daily Echo:

Speaking before the Lymington ceremony she said: “Growing older is something to be celebrated.

"Older people have so much to offer. Many people of retirement age who are able to stay as active and involved as possible, and can spend time volunteering, trying new hobbies or socialising with friends and family, find it gives them a great sense of achievement and purpose.

“Since becoming a Churchill Ambassador I’ve enjoyed working with them to help champion the needs of older people.”