Friend of tragic Leeds police dog handler sets up event in memory of best man at his wedding
A fundraising bike ride from Scarborough to Leeds has been organised by the best friend of a police dog handler who took his own life.
37-year-old PC Mick 'Aky' Atkinson took his own life after suffering health problems which resulted in him no longer being able to do the job he loved with North Yorkshire Police.
He was found in his garage in Oulton near Rothwell on October 7, 2018, the day before he was due to start a new job, an inquest heard on Monday.
The father of one and step-father to two was said to be 'dreading' the prospect of working in an office environment and his work outdoors and with dogs was said to be his life.
Now, best friend Pierre Olesqui has set up a charity bike ride in honour of Mr Atkinson, called 'The Tour de AKY', which will start in Scarborough and finish at Leeds Rhinos' Headingley Stadium on June 14.
The ride, which totals 106.6 miles, will raise money for mental health charity Mind and the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, and passes several locations that were close to Mr Atkinson's heart.
Mr Atkinson was the coach of Hunslet Warriors under eights rugby league side and a regular at Leeds Rhinos matches.
Pierre (40) told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I worked with 'Aky' in Scarborough and we are best friends, he was best man at my wedding and spent most Fridays at Headingley together watching the Rhinos.
"He wasn’t a cyclist but a few years ago he did a couple of charity rides which he was very proud about. So I wanted to challenge myself the way he did."
To date, 86 riders have signed up to the challenge with around a dozen support personnel.
Pierre hasn't set a target for how much he would like to raise, although the Go Fund Me page he has set up states £5,000, he is just hoping to collect as much as possible.
He added: "I don’t have an amount (in mind) but on the Go Fund Me page I have asked for £5,000, but I didn’t know the interest in it would gather and obviously would love as much as possible.
The ride starts at 6am on June 14 at Scarborough Police Station, before travelling over 100 miles and finishing at Leeds Rhinos' Headlingley Stadium.
It will pass or stop at several locations that Mr Atkinson was fond of, including old rugby and football grounds, to his school and family home, as well as police stations he worked in.
The ride will also take in the home of Leeds United, Elland Road, before finishing at Leeds Rhinos' Headingley Stadium.
More information can be found on the fundraising Facebook page here.To date, more than £2,000 has been raised on the Go Fund Me page, which can be visited here.