Southport Rugby Football Club are closing in on their target to travel all the way around the world – not just once but TWICE.
The club set off on their ‘Ellis Expedition’, on July 1, with the aim of running, walking, swimming and cycling the 16,000km equivalent of Southport to the South Pole. They have since quadrupled that target, travelling twice round the world, and are currently just over 700km away from returning home to Southport.
They are doing so in memory of inspirational Club President Graham Ellis, who tragically died before he was due to launch the challenge in his honour. The dad-of-three, married to wife, Anne, and father of Hugh, Megan and Jack, was 64 years old.
All the money raised through the challenge will go towards the Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Charity.
Earlier this week they smashed their £25,000 target to support the NHS, and have now raised over £26,000.
At the weekend, several players completed a ‘Pier to Pier’ cycle challenge between Southport and Blackpool.
Col Toohey, who had the idea for the Ellis Expedition, said: “We were absolutely delighted to hit £25,000!
“By all accounts it was a great ride. Two groups went, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Friday’s team got the far better weather!
“Over 30 people took part. It’s amazing what some people will do for a bag of chips and some Ice cream! The route was about 125km.
“We also had a group of 20 people do the Yorkshire Three Peaks last week too. I’m still sore now!”
The Ellis Expedition was due to be officially launched by Graham Ellis at the clubhouse on Waterloo Road on July 1.
Graham, a chartered surveyor who lived in Southport but grew up in Liverpool and Stockport, was thrilled to hear that the challenge was taking place in his honour and was pleased to support the NHS, which he credited with twice saving his life in recent years.
Colin Toohey said: “On the final day of the challenge, July 31, we are planning a big walk from the Southport Rugby Club clubhouse out towards the Marine Lake in Southport, with everyone walking in their own ‘bubbles’, and then back to the Clubhouse where we will celebrate Graham’s life and raise a glass to him.”
Graham’s funeral took place on Friday, July 10 at West Lancashire Crematorium. But due to rules over social distancing, only his wife, Anne, children Jack, Megan and Hugh and a few other close family members were allowed to attend.
A huge guard of honour was staged along Waterloo Road, with everyone wearing club colours, as Graham’s hearse passed his beloved rugby club.
A huge tribute has already been paid to Graham in the shape of the immense effort people have put into The Ellis Expedition for which he will forever be remembered.
Col Toohey said: “That is the kind of man that Graham was, to have inspired that level of support among so many.
“There are people in Dubai, in Australia, all over the world, doing challenges in his memory. “There are people in their 80s doing the expedition, children aged five, the people involved are mostly from our rugby club but there are also others from the wider rugby family who are keen to honour him.”
How to get involved in The Ellis Expedition:
Step One: Download Strava
Step Two: Join our group (https://www.strava.com/clubs/Southport-RFC)
Step Three: Sign up to the challenge (https://www.challengehound.com/…/6f1cd4b0-b089-11ea-b34a-b1…)
Step Four: Connect with Strava
Step Five: Run, Walk, Cycle…
Remember to donate! (www.justgiving.com/team/SouthportRFC)
For more details about The Ellis Expedition please visit: www.pitchero.com/clubs/southportrugbyunionfootballclub/ or email Colin Toohey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the Southport RFC page on Facebook.