Gratitude Games

Mike Downard profile

Project by Mike Downard

We did it
On 18th April 2023 we successfully raised £9,444 ( + est. £2057.25 Gift Aid ) with 181 supporters in 591 days

Our vision is a nation where every Emergency Responder is supported in their mental health

Far too many of our Emergency Services and NHS staff suffer from poor mental health due to the nature of their work. They need better access to specialist care to improve it. The Gratitude Games will raise awareness and vital funds to ensure every Emergency Responder is supported in their mental health.

The UK’s Emergency Responders have always had to deal with some of the toughest, most traumatic situations imaginable, which understandably takes a huge toll on their mental health. The pandemic has only heightened these demands and pressures, with 69% of Emergency Responders reporting that their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic.*


It's an exciting new charity sporting event that will unite over 20,000 emergency services and NHS workers and their families, to celebrate and thank them for everything they have done and continue to do. At the same time, through donations and sponsorship, the Games will raise funds for specialist mental health charities that support our Emergency Responders.

The Cities of Manchester and Salford are hosting the first Gratitude Games from 20th May to 11th June 2023 in some fantastic venues in and around both cities.

We are offering twenty different sports for all ability levels. Most of the participants will be Emergency Responders but there will also be some mass-participation events, such as road running, which are open to the public.


The Gratitude Games is the brainchild of Mike Downard, a serving firefighter with over 18 years’ front line service with Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue service. Together with sports industry veteran Simon Rider, Mike founded the charity UK Emergency Services Giving (UKESG), which the Gratitude Games will raise money for. 


“Working in the Emergency Services for as long as I have, I’ve seen a lot – and I’ve seen the devastating effect that this job has had on the mental health of so many of my colleagues. After seeing many of my co-workers suffer and a few of them even, very sadly, taking their own lives, I decided to create a charity that would raise public awareness of what we go through on the frontline  Then with any money we can raise, I want all Emergency Responders and NHS staff to have access to the tailored mental health support they need, as and when they need it.

"The Gratitude Games is the fundraising part of the charity I set up after deciding I 1626271788_whatsapp_image_2021-07-14_at_15.57.43.jpegneeded to do something to help - and has grown out of an idea I had for Emergency Responders and NHS staff to really take time to do something for themselves for once. The benefits of physical activity on mental health are well known and the Games will give the UK public a chance to really say thank you for everything Emergency Responders have done and continue to do. It’s a chance to bring the Emergency Responders, the NHS and the great British public together to have some fun after some difficult times and enjoy the benefits of sport in some great venues - with Manchester’s iconic Etihad Campus as our main hub.

"I’m really excited about the Gratitude Games and any support that you could give us would be massively appreciated. I’ve decided to use Crowdfunder so that as many people as possible can show their support for our fantastic Emergency Responders and NHS staff.”


All profits from the Gratitude Games will go to provide mental health support through existing charities including Police Care UK, The Fire Fighters Charity, The Ambulance Staff Charity and Duty to Care (NHS).


We have an ambitious target to raise £10 million over 5 years for the mental health of our Emergency Responders

The Gratitude Games is a non-profit event that will raise money to operate through Crowdfunder donations, personal sponsorship, corporate partnerships, entry fees and merchandising. All profits will be donated to tailored mental health projects through our four nominated charities.


The services participating in the first Gratitude Games are;

4x4 Response; Air Ambulance; Ambulance; Blood Bikes; Border Force; Cave Rescue; Fire (including DFRMO); HM Prison & Probation Service; Lowland Rescue; Maritime and Coastguard Agency; Mountain Rescue; NHS; Police; RNLI; St Andrews First Aid; St John's Ambulance; Surf Life Saving GB


Angling; Archery; Athletics; Badminton; Road Cycling; MTB Cycling; Equestrian; Golf; Karting; Laser Run; Lawn Bowls; Road Races (10K, 5K, 1.5K, Wheelchair); Rowing (Indoor); Shooting (Clay); Squash; Swimming; Tennis; Table Tennis; Ten Pin Bowling; Triathlon.



Or contact us:

General enquiries: [email protected]

Press enquiries: [email protected]

Corporate enquiries: [email protected]


*Mind: Blue Light 'Behind the mask' report, published May 2021.

Terms & Conditions: 

Money raised on Crowdfunder is donated to UK Emergency Services Giving (UKESG Limited) to contribute to the establishment and management of the Gratitude Games. In the event that insufficient total funds are raised or there are surplus funds raised, donations will be held by the charity for the benefit of Police Care UK, Duty to Care, The Ambulance Staff Charity and The Fire Fighters Charity.

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