Steve Johnson – the Cycling Samaritan

I’ve been a Samaritan at the Hastings and Rother Branch for about five years now. In common with the 200 other branches across the UK and Ireland, we rely on voluntary donations and small grants to keep our service going.  So, last year, I decided it was time to ‘dig deep’ with a big cycle ride and raised around £5000 by riding from Sussex to Shetland.


Above: Shetland Samaritans and sponsors – North Link Ferries – welcome me to the most northern Samaritans branch in the UK

On the way to Shetland, I visited 25 Samaritans branches – working a phone shift in most of them. Local cyclists joined the ride as far as the next branch or just for a few miles to a nearby coffee stop. The support from colleague Samaritans was overwheming. It was a priviledge to meet so many interesting and wonderful people.


Above: Cyclists from Samaritans Scarborough ready to join part of the Sussex – Shetland ride

2020 called for something different and more collegiate. A supported team ride from London to York seemed a decent idea.

More riders = more sponsorship and, hopefully, even more fun.

Samaritans branches are always on the lookout for new volunteers. As last year, part of the ride’s purpose is to persuade people to join the 20,000 Samaritan volunteers doing their best to support vulnerable people across the UK.

As for cycling, that’s been a life-long interest. As I no longer work full-time, there’s been the chance to spend a few more hours on the bike getting fit enough to tackle the occasional local 60km ‘sportive’ and endurance rides such as the 2018 and 2019 London / Surrey 100.

Climbing in the rain (2)
Riding a 35-year-old classic bike uphill in the rain during the 2018 London/Surrey 100

The Sussex / Shetland challenge helped inspire others to get cycling. Let’s hope the London – York Heritage Tour is even more successful.  Samaritans and their friends are invited to join and enjoy the ride for a few miles while helping to raise funds for their own branch or our Samaritans Central Charity.

There are also opportunities for businesses to support the ride. So, please get in touch if you would like to be a Heritage Ride Business Partner or have a contact who may wish to be involved.

“…… the thing about cycling isn’t that it’s healthy, or environmentally friendly, or fast, or convenient, or politically correct. The thing about it is that it’s fun.”

Bella Bathurst, The Bicycle Book, 2011

Steve Johnson, October, 2019