Wigan fund-raiser cycles across the country on a tandem for charity

Rachel Holley and Tony Halsall arrive in Lancaster with another rider
Rachel Holley and Tony Halsall arrive in Lancaster with another rider

A keen cyclist from Wigan joined fellow two-wheeler fans to keep an intrepid tandem rider company as she took part in a mammoth charity challenge.


Rachel Holley, a volunteer at Tunbridge Wells Samaritans, is cycling all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money and awareness for Samaritans.

Tony Halsall and Rachel Holley, centre, get ready to set from Wigan Samaritans branch

Tony Halsall and Rachel Holley, centre, get ready to set from Wigan Samaritans branch

She will cover 1,000 miles during the trip, riding on the tandem with a different person each day and visiting 26 Samaritans branches along the way.

Rachel called in at Wigan Samaritans’ branch on Dicconson Street as she made her way through the country.

She then set off with Wigan cyclist Tony Halsall to head to Preston and finished the day at the Lancaster branch.

Rachel said: “Some challenges are too big to tackle on your own. Like, for example, cycling from Lands’ End to John O’ Groats, on a tandem.

“But everyone goes through difficult times at some point in their life – tandem-related or otherwise – and it’s okay to ask for help.

“Whoever you are, and whatever you’re going through, Samaritans are there to support you.

“As a short, fat woman most at home curled up on a sofa, getting fit enough to cycle a thousand miles felt like a ludicrous impossibility – I’d never have managed to make myself do it on my own. But with help and support, I might just get there!”

Tony said: “I offered to support Rachel, not only because it’s a great cause and one close to my heart, but also because of the message that has become synonymous with the challenge.

“It really is okay to ask for help with some of life’s challenges. Every time that message reaches someone, it really could save a life.

“Given the recent storyline in Coronation Street and Mental Health Awareness Week, it seems like an ideal time to get the message across.”

“I rode around 50 miles with Rachel and it was great supporting her challenge.

“We hope people will look out for us and consider sponsoring the ride.”

As a former Samaritans caller herself, Rachel hopes the ride will encourage people to reach out for support, as well as consider volunteering for the charity.

Rachel has already raised more than £2,500 through the challenge and is part of a team of riders who have raised £4,462.90 in total so far for
Samaritans.

She is still in the saddle and hopes to arrive at John O’Groats on Friday.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every day of the year, providing a safe place and someone to talk to for anyone struggling to cope.

The charity is contacted every six seconds by someone seeking help.

It relies on volunteers to provide their service and are urgently recruiting in Wigan.

The Wigan branch provides telephone and email support to around 23,000 people every year and is operated by volunteers.

Anyone interested in volunteering can find out more by going to www.samaritans.org/volunteer-us.

To make a donation to Rachel’s fund-raising appeal, visit mydonate.bt.com/teams/endtoendtandemonium.

Anyone wishing to contact Samaritans to seek support should call 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.