Friends battle through rain to cycle 100 miles in memory of PC Mick Atkinson
More than 70 friends of PC Mick Atkinson, who took his own life last year, cycled over 100 miles on Friday June 14 in the 'Tour de Aky'.
PC Atkinson, 37, from Leeds worked as a dog handler 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, but he was found dead the day before he was due to return.
The charity cycle ride, organised by his best friend and former colleague PC Pierre Olesqui, took in places that had held significance in PC Atkinson's life.
The route was 106.6 miles long, a nod to PC Atkinson's collar number of 1066, which was retired by North Yorkshire Police as a mark of respect shortly after his death.
Heavy rain at the start of the day didn't deter the 75 riders as they set off at 6am from Scarborough police station.
PC Olesqui said: "The start was hard a bit of hard work but thankfully it dried up quite quickly.
"It didn't dampen the spirits that's for sure."
From Scarborough the group cycled to Filey golf course, where PC Atkinson had been a member when he worked in Scarborough, then stopped at police stations in York and Tadcaster.
90 per cent of riders finished, with a large group cycling together from York to Leeds.
PC Olesqui continued: "We regrouped in York and 35 of us stayed together which was a fantastic experience."
"When we got into West Yorkshire the stop offs were a bit more sentimental." explained PC Olesqui, "We went to his mum and dad's house in Woodlesford, Rothwell Church where his funeral service was held and his old high school."
The riders also stopped off at Elland Road stadium and Hunslet Warriors rugby club where PC Atkinson had coached youngsters and finished at the Original Oak in Headingley before going to the Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors, where they were given a lap of honour before the match.
PC Olesqui added: "For myself, a number of times throughout the day I was rather emotional, visiting Bev and Mo, Aky's parents, I was very emotional.
"I wouldn't have changed a second of it, it was the spirit of the group, it was raining, a long distance and I didn't hear any grumbling or moaning once.
"People were remembering him, everything was geared around him, having his signatures on the shirts, his colours, his badge, everything we did was for him.
"We did him proud."
The day was deemed such a success, there are talks of repeating it every year.
"We're already in discussions about doing it again," said PC Olesqui, "with such a response I'd be stupid not to make it an annual thing.
"I want his name to live on."
With an original fundraising target of £5,000, on Monday June 17, the team had raised over £12,000, which PC Olesqui said was "unbelievable."
He added: "I've taken a lot of plaudits, a lot of people have patted me on the back, but nothing could have been done without everyone helping me.
"The support crew who spent 10 to 12 hours in a van, people at stops along the way giving us food and drink - what happened on Friday couldn't have happened without them."
Anyone wanting to sponsor the riders in the Tour De Aky should visit the Go Fund Me Page.