7 Days. 70,530 miles. £7,436 raised.

On 19th May, the RAF Police Rugby team nominated Atlas as a charity to benefit from a global lockdown challenge. The challenge was to travel as far as you can around the world under your own steam, and for friends and family to donate online. The collective mileage target was 25,000 miles i.e. the earth’s circumference. For full information click here.

The RAF Teams kicked us off with some awesome pledges, including one person taking on a 100km run carry 10kg on his back. They were followed swiftly by the Atlas USA board, with all of the board members getting out in the sunshine to rack up some miles – including Chairman Laurence Geller, who, along with his household, challenged themselves to a collective marathon each day. Their efforts resulted in some friends donating $10,000 to the intelligent and far reaching work done by UNICEF to tackle coronavirus.

In the UK, we were delighted to have Atlas and Rugby for Heroes Ambassador, Nick Knowles on board to kick-start the online fundraiser, and the videos sent in from our teams and supporters across the globe showing the creative and unique ways in which the Atlas family got involved were wonderful to see.

Atlas CEO Sally Pettipher pushed her son Will in a wheelbarrow for a mile (which was more challenging than it looked), and in return, Will carried her on his shoulders for a mile as well, championing their own version of the well-known song, "She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother". More efforts in the UK came from the Front Row Club team, with interns past, present and future getting involved, collectively pulling in around 160 miles, with our good friends at PR company Square in the Air getting 525 miles of their own in! Check out the team in this video:

The community spirit of the Atlas family was wonderful to see, with everyone virtually coming together to support our kids around the world who are in need of food vouchers, masks, and health support in this difficult time. More efforts from the UK came flooding in with Richmond FC contributing an enormous effort with well over 700 miles, the Commons & Lords rugby team rallied by UK Trustee, Lord Addington and Richard 'Juggler' Austin, who also helped get friends at Wooden Spoon and England Deaf Rugby Union with his (and mascot Winston's) amusing and creative antics! 

Special mentions must go to Neil Blewitt, Fiona Stockley and Will Gaudie. Neil, who normally organises our cycling and golf events, was fantastic at gathering the support of the London Stock Exchange Group and our regular cyclists, alongside his own donations and mileage. Atlas Trustee, Fiona “Stockers” Stockley, was instrumental in stirring the competition between the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s sides with Wasps, Saracens, Harlequins, Loughborough and Gloucester-Hartpury women’s teams all making a huge difference to the overall total. The connection between these clubs was strong for the challenge, as all five had players in the RAF, most notably Amy Cockayne of Harlequins and Chrissy Siczowa of Saracens.



Finally, of all the outstanding efforts that came in from our friends across the UK, the one that stands out the most is our Front Row Club Rugby World Cup 2019 prizewinner, Will Gaudie. Will cycled 210 miles and (apart from his lovely mum, Sue), his biggest cheerleader, Tilly also got in over 150 miles. This is no mean feat for anyone, and even more so for Will, who throws himself at every challenge, despite his cerebral palsy. A true champion, his efforts inspired a stream of donations coming in over the long weekend.

It wasn’t only the Atlas team at home that were getting stuck into the challenge, the support of our projects in Cambodia, Kenya, Argentina, the Philippines, South Africa, India, Zimbabwe, eSwatini and the USA was awe inspiring. These projects have already been working incredibly hard to make this difficult time easier for the kids in their care, without having to go the extra mile for the #ATW7 challenge. For many people, the motivation to get through the challenge was seeing the beaming smiles as the Khelo Rugby kids wished us luck and gave thanks for participating, or for others it might have been the inspiring images from Cape Town, where Coach Xolani has been making masks for our kids, and Coach Frank helps deliver them along with health advice and food vouchers. Meanwhile in Memphis, Shane Young has been wonderful at organising collections and vital supply packs for the local community, along with the help of MICR’s brilliant young leaders, helping deliver sports equipment and donated laptops as well to help keep kids fit and healthy and maintaining access to educational support. The support to our kids from our project leaders has been inspirational and we can’t thank them enough for their continued hard work.

Read more about what our projects have been doing to support our kids in India, Argentina, USA and South Africa.

Starting a little later than the other teams, our #AN family in Singapore have also been racking up the miles, with Round the Island Challenge organiser Fiona Morement herself, getting over 600 all by herself! They are raising money to help support migrant workers living in dormitories in Singapore, in terrible cramped conditions and basic rations. Support their ongoing fundraiser here.

And last but not least, Atlas wouldn’t be Atlas without its wonderful rugby champions, some of whom pitched in to get involved in the challenge. Atlas Ireland’s Shane Byrne got in some miles along the beautiful Irish coast, and the online support from former England 7s legend and Atlas cyclist, Ollie Phillips was a real motivator. We were delighted to share videos from England and Lions legend Simon Shaw, the Atlas UK Trustees and US Trustees as well. Our female champions pitched as well with Claudia MacDonald of Wasps and Alycia Washington in the US leading the way. Our standout champion was Peter Rogers, who is already working as a carer. Peter, demonstrated how he uses PPE in his capacity as a carer, and then took to his bike to ride over 90 miles for #ATW7 across the weekend to get to and from his work. On top of that, he was kind enough to donate a whole day’s wages to the fund, leaving everyone in the team absolutely blown away by his compassion and kindness.

One final thank you must go to the RAF Police Rugby Team, or the Flying Pigs, as they like to be known, and in particular to Rhys Wynn. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to gather as much of the support as we did, and their fundraising efforts will really make a difference to not only the kids and families we are supporting around the world in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, but also the countless families in the UK who have been affected by this terrible situation. We can’t wait to work with the Flying Pigs again – here’s to the next challenge!

7 Days. 70,530 miles. £7,436 raised.

The donations are still coming in, so please give what you can here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/around-the-world-in-7-days 

Or, if you live in the US, make use of tax advantages here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/around-the-world-in-7-days-against-covid-19/