Charity cycle ride in memory of PC Mick Atkinson gains shirt sponsorship and beats £5,000 target
A 106.6 mile charity cycle ride organised in memory of PC Mick Atkinson has beaten its fundraising target.
Mr Atkinson, 37, from Woodlesford in Leeds tragically took his own life at his home in Oulton near Rothwell on October 7 2018.
Mr Atkinson worked as a dog handler in the Dog Support Unit with North Yorkshire Police for more than 10 years before he began to suffer from arthritis in one of his knees which caused a prolonged absence from work.
He planned to go back in an office-based role, a prospect he said he was dreading after facing front line action for more than a decade with his beloved dogs, but he was found dead the day before he was due to return.
Since his death, his colleague and best friend PC Pierre Olesqui has organised various charity events to remember Mr Atkinson, known as Aky, and to raise money and awareness around mental health.
The pair met when they were both working at Scarborough police station in 2001 and had remained close friends ever since.
More than 80 people are taking place in the cycle ride, dubbed the Tour de Aky, which will take place on Friday, June 14, starting at Scarborough police station and finishing at Headingley Stadium.
The route covers 106.6 miles, a nod to Mr Atkinson's collar number 1066, and will take in locations that had meaning to him such as stations he worked at and his high school.
The fundraising target was £5,000 to be split between Mind and the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, and with a week to go the team have surpassed this, raising £6,405.
Mr Olesqui said: “The support this ride is generating is fantastic. We’ve already smashed our initial £5,000 fundraising target and have more than double the number of riders we originally hoped to attract."
The team have also secured shirt sponsorship from various companies including lead sponsor Yorkshire construction company, Harris CM.
Other corporate sponsors include commercial heating trade event Boiler Room Exhibitions and Leeds based DAS Engineering Services and the cycling jerseys have been supplied by Defined Intervention.
Paul Taylor, Business Development Manager at Harris CM, said: “We are proud to honour Mick Atkinson by supporting such a worthy cause that will be a fantastic tribute to him, as well as raising a huge sum of money for two very deserving charities.
"The ride will also help to raise awareness of mental health issues, which unfortunately are far too common in the construction industry, and will hopefully encourage people to talk about their problems.
“This is a message that we’re keen to promote as a company and it coincides with us launching mental health first aid training for all our employees, so it’s the ideal event for us to support.”
Mr Olesqui added: “To have corporate sponsors coming on board at this stage is brilliant and we’re really grateful to Harris CM, Boiler Room Exhibitions and DAS Engineering Solutions for their backing. As well as raising money for charity, it’s about encouraging people to speak out about mental health concerns and if it helps one person to do that, it will be worth it.”
Anyone wanting to sponsor the riders in the Tour De Aky should visit the Go Fund Me Page.