Mascot Makes Foam Friends As London Marathon Runners Raise Record Funds

Eighty runners who took on the challenge of this year’s London Marathon to run for Samaritans are on course to raise record funds of £150,000. 

From first-time runners to seasoned veterans, Team Samaritans’ athletes pushed themselves to the limit on behalf of the charity that offers round the clock support for anyone struggling to cope.

Emma Burgess, Samaritans’ Events Fundraiser said, “We’re so proud of our runners and want to thank them and their supporters for their dedication and generosity.  Family, friends, colleagues and communities up and down the country have helped raise vital funds so that we can be here for people round the clock, every single day of the year, when things are getting to them.”

To mark the 35th anniversary of the London Marathon, runners were encouraged to pair up and hold hands as they finished the race.  Dave Lock from Woodford Green in North East London runs for Samaritans every year dressed as an enormous green sponge phone.  He seized the opportunity to make friends with outsized Save the Rhino mascot, Riley. The giant duo crossed the line together to rapturous applause.

Dave Lock said he and Riley had been bumping along together for the last few miles. “As we edged past Buckingham Palace, I was considering a sprint finish but, half way towards the line, we thought it would be great to go ‘rhino paw’ in ‘telephone hand’ over the line together.  Riley said, “Let’s do it’, and off we raced.  Long live the Rhino and the Telephone! Can't wait till 2016.”

Competitive dads and daughters was the theme for others, with two father and daughter teams setting off to battle for the line.  In both cases, the women had been inspired to take on the challenge by their dads.

66-year-old Martin Lunt from Eccleston in Lancashire and his daughter, Josephine Lunt, who’s 40 and lives in London, were given different start points but met at the four miles point before finishing together in triumph.

“After cheering me on in the London Marathon last year, Josephine decided she wanted to run the race to mark her 40th birthday,” said Martin. “Her target was to run below five hours and she achieved it with 4 hours, 51 minutes. The trouble is she can also claim that she beat me, as my time of 5 hours, 11 minutes includes the twenty minutes I waited for her to meet up with me!”

Volunteers and supporters were out in full force at cheering points along the way and then welcomed runners back for VIP treatment at the Samaritans’ race after-party. Each was invited on stage at the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End to receive their race certificate before being treated to drinks, showers and a reinvigorating massage.

Southampton based The Health Insurance Group sponsored the running vests for Samaritans’ London Marathon team.

Brett Hill, Commercial Director at The Health Insurance Group explains, “As an organisation we are concerned with health and wellbeing in the workplace. With 15 to 20 per cent of a workforce likely to suffer from stress related mental health issues at some point, some of these employees may also be callers to Samaritans. Having someone to talk to can make all the difference.

“It is widely recognised that exercise and physical health, such as running, can have a positive impact on mental health. Samaritans is an extraordinary organisation that we are delighted to support, along with their 21,000 volunteers and all the people who run or sponsor runners”.

Samaritans has hundreds of runners and cyclists taking part in challenges across the UK this year. For more information and to find out how to get involved, please visit Samaritans’ website.

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For more information about the work of Samaritans please contact The Press Office on 020 8394 8300 or email

Notes to editors:

  • Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Please call 116 123, email, or visit to find details of the nearest branch.