YORK St John University rugby league winger Kyle Burford is closing in on completing his family’s 900-mile challenge in order to raise money for charity.

Burford, a sport exercise therapy student who has just completed his second year at St Johns, along with his mum, brother and sister, are either cycling or running 30 miles every day for 30 consecutive days in support of the North West Ambulance Service.

Explaining his motivation for the challenge, which is set to conclude next Tuesday, Burford explained his personal connection to the cause.

“We’re raising money for the North West Ambulance Service,” he said.

“My grandad recently had a fall and, even in these trying times for the NHS, there’s no job too small for them.

“Growing up in the north west, it’s an organisation that I feel is under-appreciated and now we’ve got the time to be able to give back to them.

“I’ve used the NWSA a few times myself having broken bones in the past while playing rugby.

“The NHS is something that is so unique to this country and it’s something that we need to look after.”

“It’s going to be a hard stint for us.

“My family have never been the most active, but we’re not unfit.

“We set ourselves a number that we thought that we could achieve and hopefully we’ll be able to do more than we’ve set out.

“We’ve been doing a few kilometres over what we’ve set out per day and hopefully that will add up by the end of the challenge.”

Finding purpose within the confines of lockdown can be tough at the moment.

But, being able to stay fit while raising money for good causes is a strong remedy for that.

“It’s definitely given me some purpose,” Burford continued.

“It’s given me a focus every day during lockdown.

“Having now finished my University work for the year, I’m basically just stuck in a flat.

“My girlfriend is a police officer so she is out of the house six days a week and, without this challenge, I’d have been stuck in the flat not doing anything.

“It’s mainly my family that are doing the brunt of the work because I can only here (Batley) where I’m living with my girlfriend at the moment.

“I’m finding it tough at times. I’ve developed shin splints which can make it difficult for running.

“But it’s good exercise, it’s beneficial for myself and I’ve got that motivation to do it as well.

Burford’s team-mates in the St John rugby league side have also come up with their own fundraising initiative.

“The team have been doing their own bit for the NHS as well,” explained the winger.

“We’ve created our own charity shirts and we’ve been selling those to raise money.

“It’s so good that we’ve been trying to do as much as we can because I think that you can not be appreciative of the NHS until it’s pushed, like it is now.

“As a team we thought that we should do something in the current situation.

“So we’ve brought out the training top which has the NHS’ colours and our colours on it.

“I think we’ve sold over 100 shirts and raised around £800.

“Our captain, Stephen Gibbs, has been the main one behind it and they’ve been really well-received.

“It’s all about community and doing what you can, whether that’s buying one of the shirts or going running, it’s about doing your bit.”

The lockdown put on hold the campaign of Burford’s St John side, who had won seven of their eight matches in the BUCS Northern 2B division. St John sat only behind leaders, University of Sheffield, on points difference.

Originally from Cumbria, Burford grew up playing rugby union. Yet it only took a short amount of time for him to “fall in love” with the other code.

“When I joined the team, it was like finding a new family, I guess,” he said. “They’re a brilliant set of lads.

“In our first year in a BUCS tournament, we’ve achieved a lot, having only lost once game when the season was stopped. It’s an amazing achievement.

“With Will Leatt as our coach, having that connection with York City Knights, has been fantastic. That connection has been fantastic and it’s a very tight knit community.

“Plus, Will has been amazing this year with what he’s been able to teach us in such a short space of time.

“Where I’m originally from in Cumbria, it’s mainly a rugby union area. I’d played union all of my life prior to joining the rugby league team.

“After only two training sessions and one game, I fell in love with the sport.

“Everyone there has got a good balance between, being with their mates and having fun, and then the training – learning the plays and the tactics.

“It’s worked for us, considering we’ve only lost once and in the others we’ve dominated the sides we’ve played against.”

To support Burford’s fundraising, visit: www.gofundme.com/f/900-miles-in-30-days-for-the-nwas