Helen’s running challenge cause

Helen Salmon of Hethel, who is going to run twelve marathons in a year. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Helen Salmon of Hethel, who is going to run twelve marathons in a year. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2014

A Hethel woman plans to run 12 marathons in 12 months to raise money and awareness for Samaritans, a charity that is close to her heart.

Samaritans-history and facts

• Samaritans are available 24 hours a day to provide emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of emotional distress or despair.

• Samaritans began in 1953 in London, founded by a vicar called Chad Varah.

• The idea for Samaritans came from the first funeral Mr Varah conducted, a 14-year-old girl had started her period, but having no one to talk to believed that she had a sexually transmitted disease and took her own life.

• Whem Mr Varah was offered charge of the parish of St Stephen in 1953 he knew that it was time to launch what he called a “999 for the suicidal” .

• The first call to the new service was made on November, 2 1953.

• The second Samaritans centre was founded in Edinburgh and took its first call on June, 1 1959.

• Norwich Samaritans opened in 1964-it was contacted 56,000 times in 2013 and in the same year hosted 407 face-to-face sessions at its St Stephen’s Square centre.

• Now there are 201 Samaritan branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

• 20,665 volunteers answer a call, email or text every six seconds.

Helen Salmon, 49, has volunteered at the charity’s Norwich branch for eight years after suffering from depression.

Mrs Salmon said: “I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 2002 but it had started before then. I was very poorly and in 2003 I started to get really depressed.

“I never even thought to ring the Samaritans and wasn’t aware of it. What eventually helped me was running. When I got well someone mentioned about volunteering with them.”

The former chartered accountant, who trained as psychotherapeutic counsellor after her depression, used running as part of her rehabilitation from depression and was persuaded by a friend to run the Race for Life in 2005.

Helen’s 12 marathons

Spires and Steeples Challenge- Lincoln Cathedral to St Deney’s Church in Sleaford. Sunday, October 12

Kirkstall Abbey Marathon- Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds to Rodley and back to Kirkstall. Saturday, November 22

Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon- Route around Langstone Harbour. Sunday, December 21

Norwich Samaritans and Marriott’s Way- From Norwich Samaritan branch along Marriot’s Way to Aylsham. Friday, January 23

The Heartbreaker Marathon- From Sandy Balls, near Fordingbridge, through a route in the New Forest. Sunday, February 22

Ladybower Reservoir Individual Marathon- Helen’s own marathon in Upper Derwent Valley, Derbyshire. One lap round 15 mile reservoir and two laps round five mile reservoir. Saturday, March 14

Bungay Black Dog Marathon- Route through the Waveney Valley of Suffolk and Norfolk. Sunday, April 19

Stroud Trail Marathon- Starting and finishing in Stroud, Gloucestershire along the Cotswold way. Sunday, May 10

Stour Valley Marathon- Trail paths from along the Stour Valley along on the Essex and Suffolk border. Sunday, June 7

The Wales Marathon- From Tenby in Southwest Wales to Pembroke. Sunday, July 5

Vanguard Way Marathon- A route from Croydon, South London to Newhaven, East Sussex. Sunday, August 2

Bacchus Marathon- Two laps of the Denbies Wine estate in Dorking, Surrey. Sunday September 13

“I ran the Loch Ness marathon in October 2007 and it was amazing to do that being so poorly. I just smiled the whole way round,” said the mother of one who lives with her daughter and husband Paul.

She is also running the marathons to celebrate the Norwich Samaritans 50th anniversary this year, and her own 50th birthday which is a few weeks after she finishes her final marathon.

“I have a £20,000 target and I know it’s ridiculous and a mad sum but I felt just go out there. I’ve never felt so strongly about something as I do with Samaritans.”

She stressed the importance of the Samaritans which offers emotional support 24 hours a day.

“I would encourage anyone who has spare time to volunteer for Samaritans. I often reflect on a close friend’s suicide and wonder if calling the Samaritans would have made a difference to her.

“We talk about the dark and scary stuff that some people might not want to talk about. It isn’t simply if you have no one to talk to, it’s if you feel like you don’t want to burden people.

“If you have a chance to talk about how you feel it can help.”

To donate to Helen’s page, visit

For more information about Samaritans or how to volunteer, visit or call 08705 62 72 82

Are you raising money for charity? Email

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Diss Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Diss Mercury