Why Yorkshire was the best place to bring the Tour de France.

I think Yorkshire was the best place to bring the Tour de France not just because it is spectacularly beautiful. Yorkshire is a county where the people share a powerful connection with each other. The identity of Yorkshire is not just shaped by breathtaking landscapes but about a pride of belonging which is hard to match anywhere else. It is the people who have made this event such a success.

For sure, in cities like Liverpool, Newcastle and others there are strong connections felt between people who belong to those cities, but there is something different about Yorkshire. Yorkshire, it seems to me, is as much about the county as any particular city. There is a very strong identity associated with Yorkshire as a whole. Perhaps for this reason Yorkshire was a good place to bring the Tour De France because the cities, towns and villages all have a natural connection with each other though the commonality of the Yorkshire identity. More than ant other county I believe Yorkshire was able to behave and act as one community.

For me personally the excitement of this weekend has a lot to do with my own identity. Any reflection or celebration of a landscape has an impact on me directly. To say that Yorkshire is a place of spectacular beauty and creativity is a joyous reflection on me because it is the place that has shaped who I am. If Yorkshire had been the most ugly and uninteresting place in the world I would still belong here and what people say about Yorkshire they say about me, inevitably. Yorkshire, indeed, has a mixed image with the label “grim” difficult to shake off, but thanks to the tour, grim I hope will be replaced more appropriately by the word grand, “the grand north” I hope.

It’s difficult to imagine a more exciting summer weekend with the Tour de France reinforcing the pride and pleasure that already exists in this county. So this is not just about cycling but a coming together of so many good instincts which exist here; Demonstrating the need to belong and community, the desire to give, the celebration of talent all come together in an amazing mix.

I belong to West Yorkshire and that’s why I live here. I was born in Bradford and even now I feel a strong emotional attachment to a city which was once grand and prosperous. I have explored practically every corner of the Yorkshire Dales and and it thrills me to see the cities, towns and villages looking so beautiful.

Like so many people here I have taken the Tour de France personally and feel much better for it.

 

Published by Mark

Mark Waddington is a former BBC broadcaster and producer. He now works for the Diocese of Leeds as Urban Mission Officer. If you would like to get in touch email mark.waddington@leeds.anglican.org