Last Saturday, staff from the council’s Adult Social Care services were right in the heart of the city for the Grand Depart. They were also lucky to welcome the many Adult Social Care nominated customers and winners who had access to the best seats in the house in the Grandstand area. From their recollection, it seems it was all a little emotional (in a good way)!
There’s been plenty of talk about the great Yorkshire pride before, during and after the fairly major bike race sped through our city last weekend. I now know why. Rarely hiding in the shadows of subtly (why would we!) and as bold as brass, many of us brought the glory of Yorkshire and Leeds to the world for the Tour de France. You see, something quite extraordinary happened last Saturday: something quite unbelievable; something that bewitched me beyond anything I could ever have thought possible. No, it wasn’t that I managed to get up at 4am without a sledge hammer (although one was needed!) it was the tour de force of Yorkshire’s Grand Depart which took the rest of the world, me and many more by storm. I was and will remain smitten with our city for creating one of the greatest sporting event starts in the world and I don’t think I’m biased either! In the words of The Tour’s general director Christian Prudhomme it was “unbelievable, incredible, amazing and astonishing“. Clearly Mr Prudhomme also recognised just how seriously we Yorkshire folk took the honour. “I can see the Tour in their hearts, and in their eyes. For that, I say thank you to everyone in Yorkshire who has made this Grand Depart so very, very special.”
And so from 6am, as the rain persisted in drizzling, staff and volunteers alike stood in hushed silence at the registration desk for the Grandstand seating area awaiting our very special visitors, the people of Leeds. If you knew the characters in this team of staff, silence only usually happens when they’re asleep or eating (I include myself there!). Why then so quiet? Because we simply didn’t know what to expect from the day. Would folk still turn up despite the rain? Would everything go according to the grand plan for the Grand Depart? Would people get just how amazing this could be? A sigh of relief because not only did the sun make a strong appearance, but it also became very clear that everyone who was there, knew exactly why they were there; to share in a once in a lifetime event and to show the rest of the world how we host here in Yorkshire. How we can put a show on that would shake the world.
Leeds and everywhere in between us and Otley, rose to the challenge and surpassed it. From the yellow jumper that adorned the Black Prince statue in City Square made by a group of knitters from Holt Park, to the slightly smaller one that protected the modesty of a scantily clad bronzed nymph (not bronzed as in fake tan!) thanks to the crochet queens at Holbeck Elderly Aid. Who would ever have thought that Sky Sport TV would be interviewing our dedicated knitters as they sat and supped tea in City Square?! Well Sky Sports TV clearly know a good story when they see one – lights, camera, action! And there was the team from Laurel Bank Day Centre who stitched bunting for the barrel man in Dortmund Square. A little logistical challenge to attach it, (quick Mr Miles, get some sticky tape!) but attach it we did and it looked amazing.
Equally magnificent was the fact that despite the disruption and the road closures, all of the normal home care visits, meal deliveries and support networks carried on. Thanks to everyone who made this possible.
And finally, there’s talk of the legacy of all that was achieved and rightly so. After the greatest send off in the history of the Tour de France, so much will remain here in and around Leeds.
If you go to the West Yorkshire Playhouse just outside the Courtyard Theatre there’s a cosy little corner complete with armchair, cushion, table and a folder. The folder holds the entries for the ‘Wheely Easy’ (see what we did there!) competition. We wanted to see if a cycle race could inspire those not directly taking part in it by asking anyone who uses Adult Social Care services to take part with the chance of winning VIP Grandstand tickets for the Grand Depart itself. We weren’t disappointed. We had pictures; photos; the written word all sent in and all inspired by the Tour de France. Why not pop into the Playhouse and take a look? On the wall there is also a poem commemorating the Tour written by the Peer Support Dementia group that is based at the Playhouse.
Here are the entries:
If you would like to see some more memories of the Grand Depart taking off from Leeds look here http://uk.pinterest.com/leedscycling/the-grand-d%C3%A9part-takes-off-from-leeds/
Yours, very, very proud. LW