Southport Rugby Football Club players in Blackpool, on their 'Pier to Pier' Southport to Blackpool challenge

The Southport Rugby Football Club round the world expedition is just a few pounds away from hitting its £25,000 target to raise money for the NHS. 

‘The Ellis Expedition’ is taking place throughout July in honour of Club President Graham Ellis, who died just before the challenge began, aged 64. 

Yesterday a group of players completed a ‘Pier to Pier’ cycle ride between Southport and Blackpool in their latest of their virtual challenges which initially aimed to complete 16,000km – the equivalent length of Southport to the South Pole – in running, cycling, walking, swimming and kayaking. 

Such was the support that the aim has since been revised to Southport to the South Pole, once around the world and then from the South Pole back to Southport! 

They aimed to raise an ambitious £25,000 for the Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Charity, with Graham Ellis grateful for all their care he received from the NHS which he credits with twice saving his life. 

The current fundraising total stands at £24,464 with donations and sponsorship from over 1,000 people. 

People can donate to the Southport RFC – The Ellis Expedition JustGiving page by clicking here. 

The Ellis Expedition was due to be officially launched by Graham Ellis at the clubhouse on Waterloo Road on July 1. 

Tragically, the dad-of-three died, aged 64, just two days before the mission began. 

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, who is masterminding The Ellis Exhibition, said: “We were due to try and complete both targets throughout July, so we are delighted to have surpassed both already! 

Read More: Tributes paid to Southport Rugby Football Club President Graham Ellis

“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. 

Read More: Graham Ellis guard of honour was ‘a sight to behold’ as Southport Rugby Club honours Mr President

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 (

Step Three: Sign up to the challenge (…/6f1cd4b0-b089-11ea-b34a-b1…)

Step Four: Connect with Strava

Step Five: Run, Walk, Cycle…

Remember to donate! (

For more details about The Ellis Expedition please visit: or email Colin Toohey at: or follow the Southport RFC page on Facebook.

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