Cyclists overcome broken bones and driving rain to support Samaritans in Ride London

More than a hundred intrepid cyclists peddled through pouring rain in slippery conditions to raise funds for Samaritans in this year’s Prudential Ride London 100-mile challenge.

Many were up before dawn to make their start time, setting off from the Stratford Olympic Park in east London as light winds and gentle rain proved a precursor for the downpours to come.

Winding in and out of London, up and down Surrey’s highest hills, they returned drenched but undeterred as crowds of cagoule-wearing supporters cheered them over the finish line on The Mall.

One of the first to arrive back for Samaritans was charity worker Jacob Przeklasa from Balham in London (pictured above, right, with fellow #TeamSamaritans cyclists Joshua Naylor, left, and Michael Spencer, middle). He completed his first Ride London in an impressive 5 hours and 5 minutes, despite the conditions.

“The rain pelted down at the 20-mile mark and my glasses misted up! But it was fun and it’s the most incredible thing cycling through London never having to stop at a red light.” The service Samaritans provides was also a big motivator, said Jacob. “People who are struggling need someone to turn to, that’s why I’m raising money for Samaritans. That incredible service is delivered solely by volunteers and they rely on external funding.”

Radio therapy physicist Joshua Naylor from Dorset was also spurred on make a difference by supporting Samaritans’ suicide prevention work, completing the hundred miles in 5 hours 26 minutes. “I know of five colleagues who have taken their own life. There’s still a stigma attached to mental health issues. I want to help raise the profile of the charity and provide much needed funds.”

Swindon GP Jo Haining (pictured above with her fiancé Michael Spencer) came home in a personal best time of 6 hours, 9 minutes and was grateful for the pampering she received back at the charity’s reception for its cyclists, especially after breaking bones in training.

“I love a downhill but today I had to rein it in as it was so wet and tricky. My legs are sore, but I had an awesome massage, thanks to Samaritans. I broke bones in my hand and foot in the run up to this race, so I’m really pleased to finish today injury free.  Many of my patients get help from Samaritans if they’re in crisis, or going through a tough time in their lives. It takes a special person to take those calls.”

Brothers Chris and Tom Wedgbury from Worcester (pictured left to right above) wanted to support Samaritans after their grandfather took his own life. Tom said: “Having someone to talk to 365 days a year, 24 hours a day is so important. In the tough moments on the route, it helped me to keep going, knowing I was doing a cycle ride for a cause that really matters.”

The siblings cycled parts of the route together but found it a challenge to stay together on the hills, especially with Tom suffering no fewer than three punctures. Chris came to the rescue: “I gave Tom my inner tube – luckily I had no punctures myself because he took the tube and left me behind. Sibling rivalry is alive and well!”

Two was company for work colleagues Lionel Matsuyama (above left) and Miles Davies (right), both employees at PwC. Lionel was swept along by the cyclists around him and by the enthusiasm of supporters along the route: “There were loud cheers at the Samaritans cheer points, which was really good. It was wet and hard going because of the weather – at Westminster hearing the cheers helped buoy me along and made me pedal faster.”

Husband and wife team Jo and Derek Staniforth (below) from Bedfordshire chose to take on the shorter 46-mile course, also on offer to riders, after their daughter Rebecca was supported by Samaritans. Jo said: “We chose to give something back for the help Rebecca received. It was absolutely brilliant crossing the finish line!”

The money raised by Samaritans’ riders will help the charity to be there for anyone who needs to talk, in confidence, about anything that’s bothering them, by phone, email, text, letter, or face to face in one of its branches across the UK and Ireland.

Emma Sutehall, Events Fundraising Manager at Samaritans, said: “After training in the build-up in glorious sunshine, our riders really showed their mettle when the rain came down. They raised everyone’s spirits, along with vital funds. We’re proud of everyone who supported us, and for giving their all, despite the weather. You’ve helped make sure Samaritans there for anyone who needs us.”

The majority of Samaritans’ funds come from donations. You can donate here to Jacob, Joshua, Michael Spencer and Jo Haining, Chris, Tom, or Jo and Derek Staniforth.

Samaritans has hundreds of cyclists, runners and swimmers taking on challenges across the UK. You can find out more about Ride London 2019 here, along with other events here.

Ends

For more information, photos and interview requests, please contact Samaritans on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.

Notes to editors

  • Anyone can contact Samaritans any time for free from any phone on 116 123. This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill. Or email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your local branch where you can talk to one of our trained volunteers face to face.
  • Samaritans responds to more than 5 million calls for help a year.
  • Samaritans is a charity and it’s the public’s kind donations and more than 20,000 trained volunteers that mean we are always there for anyone struggling to cope.  Your money or your time could save a life. Find out how you can support us: http://www.samaritans.org/support-us