Doctor's 70 mile challenge to raise funds for family centre

published on 11 Jul 2024

A doctor is to take on a gruelling 70.3 mile triathlon to raise money for a Salvation Army community centre in Sunderland. 

Dr Rory Mackinnon, a GP partner at Bridge View Medical Group in the Southwick area of the city, will tackle the mammoth Geordie Man challenge which includes a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run in Northumberland on Sunday 1 September. 

The money raised will go to the Salvation Army’s Austin House Family Centre in Southwick, which is close to the medical practice, and provides several services and activities for the community. 

Dr Mackinnon said: “We are local GP practice and I know the area well. Southwick does have high levels of deprivation, so I am keen to raise money for a charity that is trying to help tackle that and that serves people locally. I want to help people that are, or could be, my patients. A lot of my patients know of or visit Austin House so they will be able to see the money is going towards something tangible, something related to them.” 

Picture of Doctor Mackinnon on a bike

The family centre in Shakespeare Street runs a number of activities including after school groups, lunch clubs, fitness classes, CAMEO (come and meet each other), an Employment Plus service to help people find and stay in work, cookery classes and hosts The Bread and Butter Thing which provides discounted food items.

Dr Mackinnon, 41, who is married with two children aged five and eight, was inspired to take part in the Geordieman after going on his own fitness journey. 

He said: “Two and a half years ago I was very unfit and was getting out of breath playing with my then two-year-old son. I was about to turn 40 and thought ‘I’ve got to make a change’ so I changed my diet and started exercising. 

“Back then I could not have run 100 metres or swam a length of the pool, but last year I did a short distance triathlon in Sunderland and then the Great North Run. I wanted to push it this year with 70.3 mile middle distance triathlon. Going from couch potato to completing this will be a big achievement.” 

The event starts with the swim around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park, then the 56-mile cycle ride taking in the Northumberland coastline and beauty spots like Bamburgh Castle and Seahouses, then finishes with the half marathon around Druridge Bay country park. 

Graham Wharton Southwick
Community manager Graham Wharton

Graham Wharton, Community Manager at Austin House, said: “A big thank you to Dr Mackinnon for undertaking this challenge in aid of raising money for The Salvation Army. Dr Mackinnon knows our community really well and understands the needs we have here in Southwick. 

“People come to Austin House each day of the week for a bit of company, some food, help with accessing jobs or benefits or to bring their kids to the after-school and summer holiday activities. We support families struggling to feed their kids, people who are feeling isolated or lonely, as well as providing lots of volunteering and social opportunities to help improve people’s sense of wellbeing. 

“Fundraising like this really does help us keep our activities running. We’ll be cheering Dr Mackinnon all the way!” 

If you would like to donate please visit https: 

A young mum is sitting on a brown sofa with her little girl. They are talking to a female Salvatiton Army officer.

Support our work

Help us to continue to be there for people in their hour of need.