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Samaritans training course inspires marathon challenge

Press release   •   Apr 18, 2019 12:57 BST

Running for life-savers: Celia Clark, GTR Customer Experience manager, is running the London marathon for the Samaritans

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) Customer Experience Manager, Celia Clark, is running her first full marathon in April in support of the Samaritans, after taking part in a training course with the charity on how to help vulnerable people on the railway.

Celia works in the Customer Experience team at GTR’s Rail Operating Centre in Crawley, manging the output of real-time information for passengers across the Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express network.

The Samaritans’ aim is to provide emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. The charity responds to a call every six seconds, answering more than 5 million calls for help every year.

Celia is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon on 28 April in a charity place after a training course offered through GTR with the Samaritans in September last year.

“My job has introduced me to some amazing and inspiring people, some of whom have been affected by suicide. I attended a training course in September on handling contact situations with people who are feeling suicidal to be able to support people who may need help. This opened my eyes to just one aspect of the vital work that the Samaritans do every day,” said Celia.

“I have always really wanted to take on the challenge of the London Marathon. I’ve been unsuccessful in the ballot six years in a row, in fact, so when I found out that I didn’t have a place again, I contacted the Samaritans for a charity place.

“Meeting some of the charity’s Listening Volunteers, as well as others on the training course motivated me to sign up to something that I know will be both hugely challenging and rewarding to support their work,” she added.

Celia has picked up the pace of training since the beginning of the year, and is aiming to achieve a series of personal best runs as she focuses on the 28 April, as well as her £3,000 fundraising target; “This is really helpful for motivation as you can see the progress you’re making.”

To encourage support from colleagues Celia also held a mammoth cake sale for colleagues at the control centre, adding £433 to her total so far.

Emma Sutehall, Senior Events Fundraiser at Samaritans, said: “Good luck to Celia and all our runners that are pounding through the streets in preparation for the big day. We hope Celia makes it through her impressive marathon challenge without too many bumps and blisters – it’s a huge feat and we’re with her all the way.”

GTR and the wider rail industry supports the Samaritans in a number of ways, including through its railway suicide prevention campaign, Small Talk Saves Lives, which encourages commuters to trust their instincts and look out for vulnerable people who might need help and talking to them to interrupt suicidal thoughts.

Barry Millward, Occupational Safety Manager at GTR, said, “The time and effort taken to prepare for a marathon alone, much less completing the run itself, is a massive undertaking and I encourage everyone to support Celia and give what they can for this fantastic cause. I have no doubt that the money will be well spent supporting those in need, when they need it the most.

Anyone who would like to sponsor Celia can do so through her fundraising page:

Notes to editors:

Samaritans has 75 runners in the London Marathon this year, who are aiming to raise collectively £140,000 from the event this year.

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria,,,