How Yorkshire folk made le Tour de Yorkshire the Grandest

The Grand Depart of the Tour de Yorkshire – the Tour de France’s epic trip to Yorkshire – was Magnificent.

And what made it so great was the Yorkshire spirit: people just getting on to make the event, like Yorkshire, the greatest.

Typical were the people of Masham, where, explains Nick Reed, manager of the Town Hall and Co-ordinator of the Masham Grand Départ Steering Group, people came together to paint an iconic picture on the market place.

Thanks to Sean Martin for this picture of the sheep on a bike:

Did they spend time and money applying for grants

Masham Sheep copyright Sean Martin

Masham Sheep copyright Sean Martin

putting out a tender for the job? No, they just got on a did it for themselves.

Local artist and Dad Robert Blades designed the artwork: a typical Masham sheep, riding a bicycle for the Tour. Staff and children of Masham Primary School turned out on the Friday to paint the sheep.

Nick explains: “It was a volunteer army in action: the school – and others around here – provided the paint (poster paint, so it’ll run off soon); we had literally dozens retouching the sheep on Saturday morning; and above all Robert Blades did not charge for his lovely work.”

Then, says Nick “The Tour came through, and for 33 seconds a billion people around the world were treated to pictures of the sheep looking resplendent in its historic market-place setting. Eurosport commentator Carlton Kirby described it live on air as “one of the most beautiful artworks we’ve seen today. Or on any Tour.”

A well-deserved triumph. And similar projects went ahead in countless communities along the Tour route. Someone had an idea, and people came together to just get on and do it.

It’s what makes Yorkshire great.

About Helen Johnson

Freelance writer specialising in Yorkshire's history and heritage.

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