Yorkshire construction company, Harris CM is the main shirt sponsor for a gruelling 106.6 mile cycle ride that is on target to raise thousands of pounds for mental health charity Mind and the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, which delivers a range of positive projects by harnessing the power of sport.
More than 80 cyclists will participate in the Tour De Aky on Friday 14th June, from Scarborough Police Station to Headingley Stadium in memory of police dog handler PC Mick Atkinson, known as Aky, who took his own life in October 2018. His police collar number, 1066, coincides with the distance the ride will cover. It will also visit several locations that meant something to rugby league and Leeds United fan Mick, including Elland Road.
Approximately £6,000 has already been raised, and as part of the Harris CM’s sponsorship, the South Elmsall based company’s branding will be prominently displayed on the cyclist’s jerseys. Other corporate sponsors include commercial heating trade event Boiler Room Exhibitions and Leeds based DAS Engineering Services. The cycling jerseys have been supplied by Defined Intervention.
Mick joined the police 17 years ago, as a PC in Scarborough, before moving into the Dog Support Unit and working as a dog handler with North Yorkshire Police for more than 10 years. However, he started suffering with arthritis in one of his knees as a result of an accident at work, and his other knee also became affected. He underwent a knee operation in April 2017, but it was unsuccessful, and he did not return to 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.
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 (MHFA) training for all our employees, so it’s the ideal event for us to support.”
The Tour De Aky has been organised by Mick’s colleague and friend, PC Pierre Olesqui. He 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.
“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.”