Norfolk man's epic bike ride in memory of his cousin

Kate ScotterA paramedic whose cousin took his own life is set to embark on an epic cycle ride in a bid to raise money for charity and to spread the message: 'don't be alone, pick up the phone'.Kate Scotter

A paramedic whose cousin took his own life is set to embark on an epic cycle ride in a bid to raise money for charity and to spread the message: 'don't be alone, pick up the phone'.

John Bakewell, from Great Melton, near Hethersett, plans to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats next month to raise money and awareness for the Samaritans.

The 45-year-old decided to do the solo cycle ride, which will also see him climb Scafell, Snowdon and Ben Nevis, in memory of his cousin William, 37, who was found dead last summer.

Mr Bakewell, whose cousin lived in Scotland, said: 'None of us were able to get close to him. He had said to his friends that he wanted to be someone about whom his family could feel proud, but you don't need to do anything for your family to be proud, we would've all be there for him if he contacted us.

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'It's sad, but not unusual. I'm very aware that there are lots of people like William out there whose lives are complex and they don't allow the opportunity to get help or for people to get help.

'One of the most valuable things that I hope will come out of the cycle is that people will hear the message that there are people out there who are available 24/7 to listen.

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'I know that the amount of money I raise in real terms will be a drop in the ocean, but it's about getting that message across to people.'

Mr Bakewell, who has been in the ambulance service for eight years, plans to start the ride on April 24 and arrive at John O'Groats on May 13.

The event will see him cycle 1,100 miles, including 42,000ft of climbing by bike and 10,000ft of climbing on foot.

The father-of-three, whose wife Laura is pregnant with their fourth child, said: 'This cycle is not a race, but it's a time to reflect and remember William.

'He had lots of friends, always had everyone laughing and was a very warm person. It makes it all the more tragic that he had lots of people to turn to, but didn't feel able to.

'It's touched us all. It's a very painful thing because it's very sad. I'm very aware that in my job I don't see anywhere near as much as what the Samaritans hear or see. If somebody calls them and says they are going to take their life, they can't pick up the phone and get the ambulance service there. That makes their job incredibly difficult.

'There are lots of people who take their lives and a lot of us walk around with out heads in the sand. We are so busy and disconnected nowadays.'

In the run up to his epic cycle ride, Mr Bakewell will hold fundraising events in Norwich city centre. He plans to cycle on an indoor trainer for up to eight hours at the Mall Norwich on March 27 and at the Forum on April 4.

For more information about the Samaritans, go to

Are you doing something amazing for charity? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email

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