The Tour de France has really captured the imagination of Yorkshire. It’s been heartening to see local residents and businesses get into the spirit of this world reknowned sporting event. From the home made bunting lining our streets, to the themed shop displays in the town.
The boutique, Moo Designs in Mandella Square, even took advantage of a sad bit of vandalism to reflect the local mood – adapting their broken shop window to look like a ‘detour’ de France cyclist had lost their way and smashed into their shop. Moo La La indeed!
Such imagination is vital when a once in a lifetime opportunity like this shines a light on our town and showcases us to a global audience. We can highlight our traditional, friendly Barnsley welcome to visitors and get the message out that Yorkshire is a good place to do business.
As well as encouraging investment and support to our local economy, we must also ensure that we make the most of the Tour de France’s sporting legacy.
I know that many local schools have used the event to kickstart all sorts of exciting activities with students. Whilst I’d love to see an increase in the number of children cycling to school, it would be great just to see more of them making the most of sporting opportunities.
Physical activity develops many vital skills, as well as having obvious benefits for our health. As well as developing team building skills and instilling confidence, it can support mental well being and offer a sense of belonging which may not be available elsewhere.
I personally see it as an investment in my family too. If I’m active, it encourages them to be active too. And if we’re all active, it gives us the chance to have fun together. I appreciate being able to keep up with them when we have a kickabout – and it’s a nice change from fell running!
Let’s hope the spirit of celebration and achievement from this opportunity stays with us, long after the bikes have gone. In years to come, when we look back on the time the Tour de France came to Yorkshire, it would be good to know that it made a lasting, meaningful difference.
This article was first published in the Barnsley Independent on 9th July 2014.