The meeting opened at 1030 a.m. prompt with Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. advising of seven apologies. His opening anecdote this week concerned a primary school teacher, a sleepy girl pupil and an exchange of views on paying attention!!
John Taylor Programme Secretary outlined next weeks Christmas Lunch arrangements and he confirmed that the normal charitable collection would be split between the Birk Crag Girl Guides Hut Rebuilding Fund and also Harlow Hill Methodist Church Funds which might indirectly benefit our Forum as a user group.
Todays Speaker was Miss Sue Wood, Horticultural Officer, with Harrogate Borough Council who visited last season and has now returned with her talk entitled “Behind the Scenes at the Tour De France”.
A promotional video (2/mins.) headed “Welcome to Yorkshire” started proceedings and illustrated the outstanding and varied scenery in Gods Own Country! Sue then took us back to the Tour De France in 2014 to describe the amount of planning, work and effort that was necessary to deliver such a successful outcome. Harrogate was fortunate to host the opening stage and have an involvement in the second stage with it being the fourth time this event had started in this country (1974; 1994; 2007). This 101st Tour involved the closure of 300 miles of roads and the logistics of delivering to a 3.5 billion T.V. audience in 188 countries. Harrogate Borough Council planning and work actually commenced in 2012/2013 and would involve event specific creations which included flower beds, elm tree sculpture on Montpelier Hill, masses of bunting, other sculptures and various displays across the whole District e.g. Knaresborough; Ripon.
2014 was also the centenary of World War One and the 100th anniversary of the Brownies which was also reflected in floral displays in various locations. We heard about the number of bicycles refurbished and repainted then erected and displayed; Knaresborough Schoolchildren “designed” Tee Shirts displayed on bunting in their town; a stained glass window feature on Montpelier Hill; entries at the Chelsea Flower Show and Harrogate Spring Flower Show with the “Welcome to Yorkshire Garden”; a Cairn in Masham and many other sculptures/ designs located around Harrogate and surrounding areas to publicise this major sporting occasion. One of the more impressive campaigns was the Knitted Jumpers initiative targeted at 3,00 but resulting in over 23,500 and hung on bunting and placed in displays in many locations. Refurbished ,freshly painted bicycles could be seen in shops, museums, on grass verges and in allotments to mention just some of the places.
In the build up to the big day(s) pothole repairs were effected on race roads, street cleaning received focussed attention and the immense and considerable logistical exercise for the race itself swung into operation…for example spectator areas on the stray; V.I.P. stands and marques erected all needing equipment and an allocated work force. There were also 8,000 stewards in addition to the police numbers to attend to the massive crowds that descended on the centre of Harrogate. Before, during and after the race the collection of rubbish needed to be addressed and the re-opening of roads once the race had passed through.
What was clearly evident was that the planning and efforts of Harrogate Borough Council and others reaped great dividends in the hosting of a superbly organised and successful event of which they could be rightly proud. This success has been recognised and reflected since by involvement in the Tour De Yorkshire and the awarding of the 2019 U.C.I. Road World Cycling Championships which will see Harrogate act as the main competition town and finish location.
After taking questions from an enthused assembly the morning concluded with Roy Smith giving a Vote of Thanks on behalf of the forty-two attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY