This bank holiday weekend, whilst most of the UK is thought to be hitting the roads and heading for the beach, Southern Railway’s Rail Enforcement Officers for Purley station, Donna, Jeremy Rogers and Luke are making their own way by foot to raise money for Samaritans.
The trio are taking on a mammoth fundraising challenge together, walking 100km from London to Brighton on Saturday 29 May from 9am, with an aim to complete the journey in 20 hours and raise as much money as possible for the charity.
Speaking about the challenge, Donna said: “We wanted to do something memorable, challenging and ultimately rewarding, whilst raising awareness and money to help support the fabulous work that Samaritans do in being there for vulnerable people who have no one else to turn to. The three of us are really close at work, so we’re excited to take it on together. The challenge route is from Richmond to Brighton Racecourse, with a mix of road, trails and a lot of undulating terrain.”
Inspired by their work and support from Samaritans within their industry, Jeremy explained: “I’ve been working on the railway for about 11 years now and we consider Samaritans to be part of the railway family. The charity plays a huge part in the training it provides to the industry and the support it offers to help us, particularly in our roles as Railway Enforcement Officers, to look out for and help vulnerable people that we may engage with day to day – so it seemed like the perfect charity to raise funds for.
“Luke and I have recently received a Lifesaver Award from our employer GTR and Samaritans, when we helped a man to safety a few weeks ago. With our training, we were able to identify that he needed help and were able to talk to him and move him to a place of safety, offering him a cup of tea and a chat. It was so nice to get that recognition and know that you’ve potentially helped to save a life.”
Speaking about the physical and mental demands of the challenge, Jeremy said: “During the pandemic, Luke and I would do around 22,000 steps a day walking through trains and stations which we thought was quite a lot – but I worked out that we’ll be roughly walking 124,000 steps in a 24 hour period for this – which brings it home how big the challenge is!
“It’s not only going to be physically demanding, but also a big mental challenge too. But we’ve got each other to pull us through – even if it’s small steps, you just keep pushing on and you’ll get there eventually. I’m looking forward to the alcoholic beverage waiting for me at the end too! The main thing is we just want to raise as much money as we possibly can for Samaritans!”
Luke said: “Depending on how this goes, I’m hoping to convince Jez and Donna to do another challenge of two marathons in two days across the Sahara Desert next year – that’s the goal!”
Wayne Harris, Rail Enforcement Manager for Southern, said: “We’re very proud of Donna, Jez and Luke who are giving up their own time to raise funds to support Samaritans. On the railway, we do come into contact with vulnerable people so it’s incredibly important that we continue to raise awareness about mental health issues and help where we can. We wish them the best of luck for this weekend!”
As well as raising money for the charity, the trio’s efforts and hours clocked will contribute to the rail industry volunteering initiative with Samaritans, the ‘Million Hour Challenge’, which aims to bring the rail industry together to help Samaritans be there for when people need it the most.
Olivia Cayley, Head of Rail Programme for Samaritans said: “We’re so grateful to Donna, Jeremy and Luke who are taking on this huge challenge for Samaritans and raising funds so we can continue to support those who need a listening ear. Particularly now, after the last year we’ve all had, it’s so important that we stay connected and look out for another – which is exactly what they do every day in their jobs. Samaritans has been in partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry for over 10 years, working together to remind staff and the public that talking really can save lives – whether that’s with a friend, a colleague or Samaritans volunteers who are always there to listen without judgement, for free on 116 123 or at [email protected].”
For more information and to donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/southern-rail-enforcement-team-london-to-brighton-21