Volunteer rides to raise awareness

A VOLUNTEER has embarked on a 6,000-mile journey in memory of his brother and son, who both died by suicide.

David Exley, 64, who works with the Samaritans, is also undertaking the motorcycling challenge around the UK and Ireland to raise awareness of the round-the-clock support service offered by the charity.

During his tour, he will visit each of the 201 Samaritans branches nationwide. He kick-started his engine at Worthing Samaritans on July 2, and will be on the road for seven weeks before reaching his final pit stop in Cardiff on August 20.

On Tuesday, as part of the Samaritans’ annual awareness day, 24:7, he dropped into the organisation’s Bury St Edmunds office in Well Street.

Mr Exley said: “My younger brother Tim took his own life 24 years ago and tragically in 2007, my son James also ended his life.

“I really hope that my challenge will mean that more people will be aware of the support Samaritans offers.

“That way, some good can come out of what has been a very difficult time for me and my family.”

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He added: “I am a bit nervous but am really looking forward to meeting my fellow Samaritans and celebrating the charity’s awareness day, 24:7 with them.”

Mr Exley was welcomed to Bury St Edmunds by town council chairman Bob Cockle, borough and town councillor Patrick Chung, Samaritans Bury St Edmunds deputy director Mandy Martin and several local volunteers.

Branch director Richard Powell said: “Our awareness day, 24:7, is the ideal way to raise awareness of Samaritans, and David’s challenge will really help to highlight this, not only in Bury St Edmunds but across the UK and Ireland.

“Samaritans is the only helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering support to anyone struggling to cope.”

Samaritans is there for anyone feeling down and depressed. Volunteers are available around the clock to offer confidential support by phone on 08457 90 90 90 or face-to-face at a local branch. Visit www.samaritans.org for details.

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