Volunteers who keep the annual Tour de Yorkshire cycling race up and running have spoken about what makes the role special for them – as 100 days remain until the next major event.
A group of the race’s Tour Makers met up outside Leeds Town Hall yesterday to promote tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire’s volunteer recruitment drive ahead of the start on Thursday, May 2.
Brian Slater, Amin Hossain, Peter Arendt, Thomasin Laming and Julie Robinson have assisted the race multiple times, keeping crowds safe and ramping up the atmosphere among some of the region’s most celebrated landscapes.
The most stunning photos from the Tour de Yorkshire 2018
Mr Slater, 72, of Whitkirk in Leeds, last year supervised 70 other Tour Makers at The Headrow after first volunteering when the Tour de France came to Leeds in 2014.
But he said: “The highlight last year without a doubt was supervising the finish at the Cow and Calf in Ilkley.
“It was the most spectacular location and the crowds were absolutely enormous and absolutely fantastic. To think that went out to 180 countries live and it was a perfect sunny day – Yorkshire doesn’t get any better than that.”
Another memory is of volunteering in Wetherby at a less populated stretch of the route, until the arrival of three primary schools raised the noise levels ready for the riders to pass.
“They were so exicited,” said Mr Slater.
“They made flags, they made banners. The joy on those kids’ faces, the experience of seeing all those riders – they were just absolutely beside themselves.
“It was amazing. I went home that night and thought, ‘Wow, these kids have had such a day’.”
Mr Hossain, 59, of Huddersfield, described the experience as like “over and above being a spectator.
“It’s pleasurable to witness the enjoyment, the crowds”, he added.
One aspect of being a Tour Maker that Miss Laming, 37, enjoys is seeing the race up close and from the best views.
She has helped since the 2014 Grand Depart, but last year enjoyed being a flag and whistle marshall on road traffic islands.
“If you are near the front you’ve got the whole peloton coming towards you and as they come to the island they just separate,” she said. “You never know who there is going to be and who you are going to interact with.”
Fellow volunteer Ms Robinson, 56, who was a Tour Maker in Barnsley last year, agreed – her favourite part was meeting professional road racing cyclist Mark Cavendish.
“He was stood where I parked my car every day.”
Mr Arendt, 66, of Bradford, stressed that proper police training to provided to everyone who signs up as a Tour Maker, as making sure the event is safe is a main priority for volunteers.
“If we didn’t do that it wouldn’t be a good time for anybody,” he said.
Speaking about the atmosphere at the events, he added: “You will become almost like friends, in a sense. There is a comradeship involved.
“You can be at various parts of Yorkshire – in some parts, the scenery can be spectacular.”
Last year a record 2.6 million spectators lined the route and £98 million was reportedly generated for the Yorkshire economy.
Full registration to become a 2019 Tour Maker is now open, with five different roles available to apply for. A new online system called Rosterfy will this year be used to communicate with all the Tour Makers.
After completing registration, people will be directed to their own personal “volunteer portal” where they can input any required information, amend their profile details and access updates.
Training days will take place across March and April in Wakefield, Bedale and Bridlington Spa.
For more information, frequently asked questions and to register, visit the Tour de Yorkshire website at letour.yorkshire.com