Premier League ref Martin Atkinson gets on his bike for Newport hospice

A PREMIER League referee is leading a 1,700-mile bike ride from the UK the World Cup finals in Russia to raise money for a Newport-based charity.

St David’s Hospice Care was one of four charities chosen by Martin Atkinson having praised the quality of the Malpas hospice during a recent visit.

The FIFA-listed official, along with four of his friends, is journeying to watch England play Belgium in their group stage tie in Kaliningrad on Thursday.

The Whistle Stop Tour group is expected to arrive at their destination on Wednesday having already raised more than £53,000 of their £60,000 target.

Event organiser Chris Sanders said: “My mother-in-law, June Santini, who lived in Newport, passed away in the hospice seven years ago.

“I decided I wanted to do something to raise money for them to repay the care and kindness she received.

“When Martin mentioned this challenge, I arranged for him to visit the hospice and he was hooked.”

All donations will be split between the charities, which include the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation, the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Charity.

Mr Sanders has taken on his own fundraising challenge in aid of St David’s Hospice Care, raising £4,000 after walking coast to coast in England with his dog Kai.


“Everyone within the group has a story related to one of the charities. Hence the agreement to split the money four ways,” he added.

“It’s a huge commitment and the guys doing the riding needed to be able to support their own charity.

“The locals have been fantastic, everyone has been interested in our story and we have had several cash donations ranging from five euros to 100 euros.”

Gavin Stewart, of St David’s Hospice Care, said: “It was an honour to meet Martin Atkinson in person and we are thrilled that the Whistle Stop Tour group have decided to donate to St David’s Hospice Care as one of the four charities.”

If you would like to donate, visit the group’s fundraising page or text WHISTLE5 to 70500 to donate £5.