VOLUNTEERS in Weymouth have praised a man’s charity challenge after he visited every Samaritans branch in the UK and Ireland on his motorcycle.

And they used the opportunity to appeal for more volunteers to give their time to help the organisation which provides a 24-hour non-judgemental and confidential listening service.

Samaritans volunteer David Exley covered more than 6,000 miles on his bike, stopping off at each of the organisation’s 201 offices.

In Weymouth he was greeted by a reception party including the mayor of Weymouth and Portland Margaret Leicester.

Mr Exley, 64, from West Sussex, said he undertook the challenge to raise awareness of the charity but also in memory of his brother Tim and son James who both took their own lives. He added: “I really hope that my challenge will mean that more people will be aware of the support Samaritans offer. That way, some good can come out of what has been a very difficult time for me and my family.”

Coun Leicester said residents were ‘indebted to the round-the-clock work’ the local Samaritans do.

She added: “Their ability to share people’s emotional burdens is more important than ever in the current economic climate.”

David Webb, local director of Samaritans, said “Last year at Weymouth we answered the phone over 32,000 times.

“David Exley’s challenging ride is a wonderful way to raise awareness of Samaritans and our need for more volunteers to cope with the increasing number of people in distress.

“Samaritans is the only helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

People interested in volunteering for Samaritans locally can call 01305 770598 or email: weymouthsamaritans@gmail.com For confidential emotional support, call the Samaritans on 01305 771777.