WITH thousands of miles still to go, a life-saving volunteer hopes walking into his hometown during his 6,000-mile trek will give him the boost he needs to continue raising money.

David Matthews set out on a mammoth task to walk to all 201 charity branches of Samaritans across the UK and Ireland exactly one year ago this month.

At each stop, the 58-year-old will fulfil a Samaritans listening volunteer shift by answering calls, emails and texts from those in need of support.

The gruelling challenge began in Doncaster in April 2018 with Mr Matthews now on the return to his native North-East and his hometown of Darlington.

He will arrive at the Darlington Samaritans branch off Woodland Road on May 11 having walking from doing a shift in Northallerton on May 10. After finishing in Darlington, Mr Matthew will trek on to Middlesbrough for his next shift.

He hopes the walk will raise awareness of the work of the Samaritans who provide a 24/7 listening service by phone, text and email, by letter and by attending major festivals. He is also aiming to raise £100,000 by sponsorship and to recruit 1,000 new Samaritans Volunteers.

He said: “I’ve been inspired to undertake the walk about five or six years ago by a Samaritan who travelled around on his motorbike with huge panniers and high-vis clothing.

“I then thought that I might do similar on a bike, but not being a huge cyclist I then pondered how I might do it and which branches I might visit.

“So I began to look on Google Maps at the branches and realised that there was almost a natural route between the branches that would lead neatly onto the next one with no need to double back.

“For a few years I have thought maybe this year, maybe this year. Then this last year I thought, if I am ever going to do it, I need to do it soon as I’m not getting any younger and I have a bit more time now."

Fellow walkers can join Mr Matthews and can find the full route and schedule by visiting listeningwalk.co.uk