Epic 630 mile walk in support of Bedford Samaritans

Cornwall Samaritans
Lesley Wood

A Bedford Samaritans volunteer is taking on a epic coastal walk to raise money for the charity.

Lesley Wood has been a Listening Volunteer at Bedford Samaritans for three years and is also part of their busy Prisons team who support HMP Bedford.

Inspired by a trip to Cornwall and the book, the Salt Path, which details a couple’s journey around the South West Coast Path, Lesley decided to embark on her own adventure.

She began her epic journey earlier in September as a way to raise money and awareness for Bedford Samaritans and Samaritans in general.

“I was inspired by a camping holiday in Cornwall just North of Newquay a few weeks ago,” said Lesley.

“Cornwall is my favourite part of the English countryside and we used to go there as a family when I was little and its coast is the most spectacular landscape I have ever seen.

“I was also inspired by reading Raynor Winn’s book The Salt Path, about her and her partner’s journey around the entire South West Coast Path driven by tragedy but making a huge difference in their lives.

“I started thinking “could I do that?”. Well the answer is that I have no idea whether I can do it, but I will give it a try.

“I can guarantee that I will finish day one of the 630 miles but after that who knows? I will give it my best shot and if I don’t complete, I will come back and finish it even if it takes several attempts.”

Lesley’s motivation throughout the challenge comes from knowing that she is raising vital funds for the local Samaritans branch.

“Please give me extra motivation by sponsoring me to support our local Bedford Samaritans Branch,” said Lesley.

“I shall need all the encouragement I can get! You can sponsor by going to the Bedford Samaritans Virgin Giving page. All money will go directly to Bedford Samaritans.

“I started my journey on Friday 11 September at Minehead. My plan is to do a mixture of camping, hostels and Airbnb to give my bones a bit of a rest.

“The great thing about this part of the world is the huge number of tea shops, cafes and beaches which I intend to visit as I go round.”

Lesley began her walk the day after World Suicide Prevention Day and will be well into her journey by 10 October – World Mental Health Day.

Both of these dates are key times to raise awareness of Samaritans and the importance of reaching out for help for those struggling to cope including those who have suicidal feelings.

Bedford Samaritans has remained open during Covid-19 with extra precautionary measures in place to enable their volunteers to carry on listening.

Samaritan volunteers are available to listen to anyone who is struggling or in distress day or night, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You do not have to be suicidal to make contact. Anyone can contact Samaritans for free from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit, or you can email: jo@samaritans.org

You can find out more about the South West Coast Path here.

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