Leeds office staff's epic fitness fundraiser for city's heart surgery charity

A fundraising fitness challenge helped one Leeds office unite virtually break the monotony of lockdown while boosting the coffers of the city's Children's Heart Surgery Fund.

By Joanna Wardill
Friday, 3rd July 2020, 6:00 am

A 35-strong team of staff from the Leeds office of Tilney, a financial planning and investment firm, have together cycled, run and walked a combined total of over 8,500 miles and raised over £6,000 for the fund which supports the life-saving congenital heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

Organised by Charlie Coade, a director and financial planner at Tilney's Leeds office who works with charities including CHSF, the challenge was to cover the distance from the firm's city centre office to Tokyo - the location of this year's cancelled Olympics.

Charlie said: "We were all working from home and I just thought we need a way to bring together our team in the office to try and do something a bit sporty without all being in the same place - to try and improve everyone's well-being really. And we just thought charities are really suffering and wanted to raise as much money as we possibly could."

Staff from Tilney's Leeds office have cycled, walked and ran over 7,500 miles in aid of the Children's Heart Surgery. They rode into Roundhay Park for the grand finale. Organiser Charlie Coade, pictured right, front row. Picture: Tony Johnson

So the team has spent the month of June leaving their home offices to clock up the miles - and have collectively smashed their target of 5,840 miles.

Charlie said: "We hit [the Tokyo target] on the 25th. We got about five cyclists, three or four runners and the rest walking with their families - dragging their kids out, none older then five, and all their dogs and just went out walking pretty much before work.

"We even managed to get some of the board of directors involved in London - trudging the pavements of London. It's been really good how everyone's got involved. Everyone has done far more than we planned. There's been quite a few victory laps around the national stadium in Tokyo. I'm pretty chuffed."

Charlie has supported CHSF in the past, having raised around £1,000 last year with Ian Gibson, a managing partner at Tilney's Leeds office, cycling the charity event of the UCI World Road Championships in Harrogate.

Staff from Tilney's Leeds office have cycled, walked and ran over 7,500 miles in aid of the Children's Heart Surgery. They rode into Roundhay Park for the grand finale. Picture: Tony Johnson

He said his initial target for this month's fundraising was set at £2,000 but had to be repeatedly revised as the team raised more cash.

"I then set it at £5,840 as I thought that's how many miles we need to do - and we've still managed to smash that. I'm really happy. Tilney is going to add another £1,000 on top of our funds too."

The sum will give a much-needed boost to the Children's Heart Surgery Fund which, like most charities, has seen a swathe of its planned funding streams this year wiped out with the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity's CEO, Sharon Milner, said: "We were over the moon to hear that this event was taking place; support from Tilney’s has been excellent and inspiring to others at the same time.

The Yorkshire Evening Post launched our 'Have a Heart' campaign earlier this year in aid of the Children's Heart Surgery Fund in Leeds.

"Some of the people taking part have never ridden a bike before, so this makes it even more of an achievement. Thank you doesn’t seem enough, we are so grateful to all the participants and in particular to Charles Coade who thought of the idea."

To add to Tilney's fundraising total, and support the Children's Heart Surgery Fund, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tilney2tokyo.

*YEP's Have a Heart campaign

The Yorkshire Evening Post launched a Have a Heart campaign earlier this year, to help the Children's Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) reach its £1m target for donations in 2020.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, CHSF has been forced to issue an urgent plea for donations after losing a "significant portion" of its yearly income - thought to be around £300,000 over the next few months.

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