When the world’s biggest cycle race came to Yorkshire, it did so with a big bang last weekend. Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 July were a climax after events across the county in the 100 days leading up to the Grand Depart.
I am not a cyclist nor am I a cycling fan. However I am a great enthusiast of Yorkshire, having lived here for 24 years and love the people and the beauty of the place.
What stood out for me is how an event can:
Bring people and communities together
Across the county, we saw people coming together to plan and put on events from large scale cultural events to getting yellow jersey bunting knitted.
In our town of Ilkley there were a host of cycle themed activities from theatre, art, food, drink and culminating in the Ilkley Cycle Races and the Spectator Hub at Riverside Park. Over the 3 days, there were 2 giant screens, fairground rides, beer and food tents, children activities and outdoor movies.
These provided opportunities for people to come together not only to watch the Tour de France but to build and share experiences with their families, friends and the wider people amongst them.
During this period, 70 people (Ilkley Guides) gave up their time to welcome and point tourists in the right direction in Ilkley. Here is Agnes one of the Guides with some of our pocket sized Town and Event maps which were given to visitors. These were printed by the Ilkley Business Forum as part of our contribution to the event and the town
Why is all this important?
Because community and social connections impact on our well being as shown by studies where stronger and broader social connections are associated with positive mental well being, increased feelings of happiness, self worth and longevity.
Research has also shown that people are happiest when giving and psychologists have found that spending money on experiences tends to brings us more happiness than material purchases.
If you need proof, take a look at the pictures and footage from the weekend and you will certainly see happy people in their masses
From dreams to reality
That the Tour came to Yorkshire in the first place is a testament to Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire whose dream to bring the Tour to the county came through. Taking that vision and turning into reality has been awe inspiring and has certainly leveraged Yorkshire’s brand and profile nationally and internationally.
The can do attitude, overcoming obstacles and progressing something that you so strongly believe in, despite scepticism are attributes that we can develop in ourselves.
Creativity and humour
Yellow fever certainly raged across Yorkshire as the county swathed itself with the yellow of the Tour de France, There were yellow bicycles in all shapes, sizes and texture across the county. The ingenuity and creativity that has been unleashed was simply astounding.
Individuals, streets, communities, villages, towns entered into the spirit of doing something unique. People took pride in showcasing their part of the county.
How good would it be it this was to continue and that people find ways to build on this?
The Pride of the people
If you watched the Tour de France on TV it would be hard not to be astounded by the stunning landscape, hills and scenery as the magnificence of Yorkshire unfolded.
Over 2.5 million people lined the route in various forms standing by the road side, cherry pickers, scaffolding…they found a way to be a part of the Tour and were proud to share and showcase their part of the county. The welcome and the support that the people showed were just remarkable.
Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France said the crowds seen on route over the weekend were “unbelievable, incredible, amazing, astonishing”
It was certainly one of the greatest Grand Départs of all time. And one that will live on in Yorkshire for years to come
– Anything is possible. Have a dream, have belief, garner support, turn vision into reality …show great leadership…
– We can all do this….in our own individual ways….get involved, form a group, be part of a group, make an impact, make a difference…get involved
– Get connected, build relationships, be part of something, give generously…you will be happier