A SAMARITANS volunteer completed the ride of his life , raising money for the charity which he holds close to his heart.

Alan Durham had only taken up cycling 18 months ago, but managed to get himself in fighting fit shape to cycle from Aldermaston to Bristol to raise money and awareness for the Samaritans .

Mr Durham, who is a level crossing manager, works up and down the country – but his main office is based in Bristol – and joked with co-workers about cycling to work having lost four stone on his exercise regime.

“There were flyers all around work saying cycle to work day, so I joked how about I ride from my nearest train station to work,” said the 54-year-old.

“The more I spoke about it the less of a joke it became and then I began to train for it and I thought I would raise money for a good cause.”

Working as a level crossing manager, Mr Durham, from Tadley, works closely with the Samaritans and has seen first-hand the work the charity does.

Due to this existing relationship he decided to support them on his 80-mile adventure raising more than £1,300 for the Basingstoke branch. Mr Durham told The Gazette: “I originally aimed for £800 which worked out at roughly £10 a mile, but all my friends, family and colleagues were so supportive and generous.

“Both the Basingstoke and Bristol branch of the Samaritans really supported me and it was just a great feeling to give something back.”

Ahead of the ride Mr Durham had lost just over four stone in weight, going from just under 20 stone to 15 stone. Now he is determined to keep up the fitness regime and is looking to do more challenges on his bike.

“Now I have done 80 miles I feel like the next thing I do has to be pretty significant,” added Mr Durham.

The Basingstoke branch of the Samaritans is always looking for new volunteers .

Visit samaritans.org/branches/ samaritans-basingstoke.