He was our brother in blue and a dear friend to all who worked with him. To use his own words a true legend
On Sunday 7 October 2018, we got the news that no one ever wants to hear. Our much-loved colleague, friend and brother PC 1066 Mick ‘Aky’ Atkinson had taken his own life.
Here, to round off Mental Health Awareness Week, his best friend PC Pierre Olesqui talks about Aky and the incredible cause that has been set up in his memory.
“Aky was loved by so many people. He was a much-loved son to Bev and John, a devoted partner to Kellie, an amazing brother to Ste and Lynsey, a loving stepdad and had just become a father to a beautiful girl.
“To me he was my best friend and more like a brother, I had known him since he joined the police in 2001 and we spent many hours together at Headingley watching our beloved Leeds Rhinos.
“He was a larger than life character who would be the centre of every party and leave a smile on everyone’s face. I used to joke that he was a celebrity at Headingley as everyone seemed to know who he was.
“Aky had been part of the North Yorkshire Police family for 17 years and a Dog Handler for over 10 years. A job he absolutely loved doing and was gutted about having to step away from for a while due to injury.
“He was our brother in blue and a dear friend to all who worked with him. To use his own words “a true legend.”
“Devastatingly, for anyone who ever had the honour of meeting Aky he took his life in October 2018.
“He was the last person you would have thought had demons he was trying to deal with – before his death we knew he was unhappy but even those close to him didn’t know the battles he was fighting within himself, which is why we encourage others to talk.
“It’s OK not to be OK, just talk!
“The Tour de Aky is a cycling event that we set up in 2019 centred around celebrating Aky’s memory.
“We cycle 106.6 miles in honour of his collar number 1066, and the route goes to and past locations that meant something to Aky such as sports grounds, the homes of loved ones and workplaces.
“And this year, in what will be its third year, the route will take us from Hunslet Warriors and Elland Road in Leeds, Kirkby Overblow, York, Selby, Castleford and back to Hunslet, stopping at Aky’s parents’ house in-between.
“This year’s event is even more special because it is taking place on Saturday 17 July – the date that would have been Aky’s 40th birthday.
“Tour de Aky is about promoting mental health awareness, encouraging others to talk, being there for each other, and together remembering a great man.
“And to date we have raised nearly £40,000 for incredibly worthy causes in his memory.
“The event and profits generated by this year’s event will raise money for three amazing charities which are very close to the #TDAfamily’s heart – the Mind mental health charity, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, and Macmillan Cancer Support.
“This is his legacy; Aky will never be forgotten.”
Mental Health Awareness Week has been running this week (Monday 10 May to Sunday 16 May 2021) and is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health.
The Mental Health Foundation started the event 21 years ago and the event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.
Sergeant Elaine Malcolm of North Yorkshire Police’s Partnership Hub and lead in force for Operational Mental Health & Suicide Prevention said:
“A life is lost through suicide every two hours in the UK, but suicidal thoughts and feelings affect thousands of us every single day. That’s why it is so important that we talk about suicide, end the stigma that surrounds it and also why we are supporting Mental Health Awareness Week this week to focus on and encourage conversations around achieving good mental health.
“Whether you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, these mental health charities, organisations and support groups can also offer expert advice: Get help from a mental health charity helpline – NHS (www.nhs.uk).
“It’s okay not to be okay and you are not alone.”
If you would like to donate to Tour de Aky visit: gofund.me/124371af
#1066 #TDAfamily #TeamNYP #ItsOkayNotToBeOkay #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek