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Telephone man answers call to lead Samaritans’ London Marathon team

Dave Lock, who will take on his 25th consecutive London Marathon for Samaritans in 2024, is now calling for people to join the charity’s team.

A man known as the “Samaritans running telephone” has answered the call to lead the charity of the year’s team for the 2024 TCS London Marathon.

Dave Lock, who will take on his 25th consecutive London Marathon for Samaritans next year, is calling for people to join the charity’s team if they are lucky enough to win a ballot place.

Mr Lock, 62, a management consultant from Woodford Green, east London, will line up alongside his daughter Isabella, 22, who will be joining him for her first marathon.

Dave Lock in his telephone costume during the 2023 TCS London Marathon
Dave Lock in his telephone costume while running the 2023 TCS London Marathon for Samaritans (Anthony Upton/Samaritans/PA)

Mr Lock, who has completed more than 30 marathons and raised nearly £50,000 for Samaritans, will be drawing on his years of experience to give Team Samaritans’ runners the encouragement and emotional support they need.

“Running for Samaritans is both a privilege and a pleasure,” said Mr Lock – who was a Samaritans listening volunteer at the Waltham Forest branch for three years.

“Sometimes it feels easier to run 26.2 miles than to take a call as a Samaritans volunteer.

“I am as passionate about Samaritans’ mission today as I was when I crossed the start line in Staten Island, New York, for my first marathon for Samaritans in 1998.

“This felt especially true at this year’s TCS London Marathon which I dedicated to my brother Steven who took his own life in March.

“Through a mixture of tears, hugs and laughter I ran my most important marathon to date for Samaritans.

“I have called Samaritans a few times when I have faced some difficult personal issues.

“If it wasn’t for my association with the charity, knowing my own mental health, I would be in a much darker place – I’m not sure I would still be here.

“That’s why I am always on that start line as a telephone. It’s so important to me and it’s why I’d urge others to run for Samaritans too, and make sure the charity can continue to be there for other people in need.”

Radiohead's Philip Selway at the Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby opening night
Radiohead drummer and Samaritans ambassador Philip Selway said Dave Lock ‘epitomises Samaritans’ (Jacob King/PA)

Radiohead drummer and Samaritans ambassador Philip Selway ran the London Marathon in 2002 for the suicide prevention charity alongside Mr Lock.

“No London Marathon would be complete without Dave the running telephone,” he said.

“Dave is a legend of the circuit and for me, he epitomises Samaritans, spreading hope and supporting others as they take on the challenge of a lifetime.

“No doubt he will bring his passion for running and the suicide prevention charity to the role of Team Captain for Samaritans at the TCS London Marathon 2024.”

The money raised at the marathon will help Samaritans to train more volunteers and keep its helpline open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Each night, Samaritans’ listening volunteers answer 1,600 calls for help from people across the UK who are struggling to cope and help them to believe in tomorrow.

Francesca, from Stevenage, Herts, said she called Samaritans when she was “in the darkest place I had ever been in my life – the most desperate”.

She added: “When I was in that moment, I called Samaritans and I even began laughing at the end of that call.

“It gave me hope that if I could feel okay at the end of that call, I would feel okay again in life. That’s why I chose to run for Samaritans.”

To use your ballot place to join Team Samaritans, visit: https://www.samaritans.org/tcs-london-marathon-2024/ballot-runners-join/

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