£12,000 raised after charity ride in memory of Leeds United fan PC Mick Atkinson

A charity cycle ride in memory of PC Mick Atkinson which stopped at some of his favourite places - including the Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos stadiums - has raised more than £12,000.

By Joe Cooper
Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 7:47 pm
The riders at Elland Road (Photo: Hamish Harper).
The riders at Elland Road (Photo: Hamish Harper).

More than 80 friends, family members and colleagues battled through the rain on the 106.6 mile route from Scarborough to Leeds on Friday, June 14.

-> Tributes paid to police dog handler and rugby league fan found dead at Leeds housePC Mick 'Aky' Atkinson, 37, from Oulton, took his own life in October 2018 after suffering health problems which led to him being unable to do the job he loved with North Yorkshire Police.

The riders at Elland Road (Photo: Hamish Harper).

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The distance of the Tour de Aky, organised by best friend and former colleague PC Pierre Olesqui, was a nod to police dog handler PC Atkinson's collar number.

It started at 6am in Scarborough, PC Atkinson's first posting as a police officer and the place he bought his first home, before heading into North then West Yorkshire, before finishing with a lap of honour at Headingley Stadium before the Leeds Rhinos versus Wigan Warriors match.

Riders included PC Atkinson's partner Kellie Taylor and his brother, while his sister Lynsey Atkinson helped out as part of the support crew.

Lynsey, 36, from Woodlesford, said the support they had received was 'outstanding'.

PC Mick Atkinson loved his job as a police dog handler.

-> Police dog handler from Leeds who had to give up job he loved took his own life day before new role, inquest toldDonations and offers of support came from across the country, with people who never knew PC Atkinson, but were moved by his story, signing up to the ride.

"Mick's death was such a shock as he was the last person you would expect this to happen to," Lynsey said. "We as a family had to make a very quick decision after his death as we knew there would be a lot of interest as he was so popular.

"We are just trying to raise as much awareness as possible. The money raised will help families who have had to go through what we have to.

"There is a lot of darkness in the world but this has just reminded us how lovely people can be."

The riders set off from Scarborough.

The money raised will be split between mental health charity Mind and the Leeds Rhinos Foundation.

A hugely popular figure in the policing community and beyond, it was not the first charity event in his memory - a rugby match was held in his honour in April.PC Olesqui, the Tour de Aky organiser, said: "When we got into West Yorkshire the stop offs were a bit more sentimental.

"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 and Hunslet Warriors rugby club where PC Atkinson had coached youngsters and finished at the Original Oak in Headingley.

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."