Mum June battles -20C on to raise money for Samaritans

June Connor on arctic challenge

June Connor on arctic challenge - Credit: Archant

An Ottery woman, who battled Arctic conditions as low as minus 20C, has helped to raise £7,500 for the Samaritans.

June Connor (front of bike) on arctic challenge with friend Carlie Hopper

June Connor (front of bike) on arctic challenge with friend Carlie Hopper - Credit: Archant

June Connor was one of six volunteers from the Exeter and East Devon area to travel to Sweden to take on a week-long survival challenge in aid of the local branch.

The 54-year-old spoke of the ‘physical challenges’ of digging snow holes, cross-country skiing and driving huskies, as well as navigating the freezing conditions.

June said: “I do not even do camping. I cannot believe I did this, I really can’t. When I took it on I would think ‘what am I doing?’.

“It was a big deal for me, I’m not a very sporty or outdoorsy sort of person and it was quite physically challenging. I did go to the gym for a bit to get as fit as I could.

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“We pretty much need the money to keep up our local building going and all the facilities and the things we do. The money is essential to keep going.”

The mother-of-two works for Sanctuary Supported Living, which supports people who at risk of homelessness but has been a Samaritan at the Exeter and East Devon branch for a decade. She was inspired to join after reading an article in a newspaper and attended an open evening at the Exeter branch.

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June said: “They were looking for volunteers, I thought you had to have a lot of knowledge and expertise but it explained that Samaritans its about listening to people and not giving advice. I thought maybe I could do that and I threw my hat in the ring.”

The team’s efforts have been praised by Helen Crossfield, director of the Exeter Mid and East Devon branch. She added: “Everyone at the local Samaritans is in awe of what the team did. Apparently there wasn’t a lot of sleep as no one was familiar with this kind of environment, nor with sleeping in a group, so it was a challenge in every sense of the word - and a fantastic thing to do”

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