The Mayor of Bath, Cllr Ian Gilchrist, joined Samaritans National Chair, Jenni McCartney, Bath Rugby players Rhys Priestland and Elliott Stooke, plus local Samaritans, and students and staff from the University of Bath, to officially mark the launch at the University’s Claverton campus, where the Walk will start and finish.
The Samaritans Walk is hosted by a different local branch each year, and this year Bath & District Samaritans was chosen to take on the organisation of the event, which draws together volunteers, their families, friends, and hundreds of supporters from across the UK.
There is a choice of two circular routes of different distances this year – 12.5 miles and 23 miles. Both take in some of the most spectacular and quintessentially English countryside there is - in the Somerset Avon valley, along the Kennet & Avon canal, and on the famous Bath Skyline, the hills surrounding the UK’s only World Heritage City.
Bath and District Samaritans Director, David Ryder said he hopes as many people as possible will register to take part, not only to help the Branch raise funds for its work:
“The 100 volunteers of Bath & District branch take over 40,000 calls a year from people in distress, who feel they have no-one else to talk to. Sometimes what’s troubling them is causing them to have suicidal thoughts.
“An event like the National Walk is a great way to do something to help our work, but also to show support for anyone going through a tough time. We want everyone to know, however dark things may seem, there is always someone to talk to.”
Bath Rugby and Wales International player, Rhys Priestland - who brought along his canine pal, French boxer Yoshi, to help with the launch - said:
“Our Club’s link with Samaritans is really important to the team. Mental fitness is important for everyone, just like physical fitness, and Samaritans are always there for absolutely anyone who needs someone to listen to their problems. Like with our other charity partners, supporting our local Samaritans strengthens our links to the community we are so proud to represent on the pitch.”
The University of Bath is actively supporting the Walk. As well as its Claverton Down campus being the location for the start and finish of the event, the University is providing complimentary usage of its bar and eatery venue, The Lime Tree, where an evening party will be held for those walking and their friends and family to celebrate, as well as changing and showering facilities, and free car parking for everyone involved in the event.
Kevin McCormick, Sales and Quality Manager at the University of Bath, said: “We are delighted to be hosting and sponsoring the Samaritans Annual Walk this year. This is the first time the city of Bath has hosted this annual event and the University of Bath is proud to be partnering with Bath & District Samaritans to help run this event and raise vital funds for the incredibly important work the Samaritans do.”
Anyone can register for either of the Walks online at www.samaritans.org/walk2018. The cost is £30.