Hundreds of volunteers will take to the streets of Sheffield to ensure the Tour de France runs smoothly.
For the first time in the famous cycling race’s 111-year history, a team of volunteers have been recruited to help with its organisation.
Known as Tour Makers – in a nod to the successful Games Maker volunteers at the London 2012 Olympics – they will take up roles such as crossing marshalls and flag marshalls along the route, as well as wayfinders at key locations such as tram stops to point people in the right direction.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind bringing the Tour de France to Yorkshire and the Tour Makers idea, said: “It’s the first time there has been a volunteer workforce. In France, people are often left to their own devices.
“Whatever role a Tour Maker plays, they can say for years to come ‘I was there and I helped make it happen’.”
Some 10,000 volunteers have been recruited for the English stages of the race – the opening two stages in Yorkshire, known as the Grand Départ, from Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield, on Saturday and Sunday, July 5 and 6, and stage three from Cambridge to London, on Monday, July 7.
Each stage has then been broken down into sectors to manage the volunteers – with more than 100 volunteers manning stage two sector 19, between Bradfield and Grenoside, and more than 600 in sector 20, which includes the finish at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena in Attercliffe.
Elaine Burtoft, of Hillsborough, will be one of the Tour Maker supervisors in sector 19.
The 59-year-old former Hillsborough College head of IT said: “I’m volunteering because I love being involved with any live sport and this gives me an opportunity to promote the beautiful countryside in and around Sheffield. “Sheffield has so much to offer and I shall be very proud to show it off to the rest of the world.
“I do want to get as close as I can. Television does a wonderful job, but to get live action is something else.”
Elaine has volunteered at the London 2012 and at other events worldwide after retiring from The Sheffield College.
She said: “It’s the atmosphere which will be brilliant, being able to interact with other people that are watching it.
“I’m getting excited about just being there, interacting with the crowds, seeing the cyclists pass and then sitting back and being able to say ‘I was there’.”
Christine Gale will also be working on sector 19, as a flag or route marshall,
The 61-year-old, from Station Lane, Oughtibridge, said: “I took early retirement to go and live in France where of course the Tour is huge. I love all things French.
“I wanted to be part of it here as I live just off Jawbone Hill in Oughtibridge and, of course, its going right past.
“I help with Bradfield in Bloom and we are currently planting up almost 3000 plants in red white and blue, so far we have made a huge French flag, planted troughs and baskets and have a plan to use bikes in a display.
“I’m hoping Yorkshire will be able to recreate the atmosphere and excitement of the Tour as the French do.
“Towns and villages vie for the honour of having the Tour pass through and it does great things for tourism especially when you see all the lovely places they go to. I hope it has the same effect here.”
Lesley Clarke has plenty of experience in the voluntary sector to build on for her role as a Tour Maker.
The 59-year-old, from Netherthorpe, took early retirement from working for the Stroke Association four years ago and now works as a a volunteer driver for people with learning disabilities.
Lesley, who will be working on route on sector 19, said: “How could I not want to volunteer for such a prestigious event when it is on my doorstep? I am proud to live in Sheffield and excited about the city’s involvement in the world’s third largest sporting event. I don’t own or ride a bike but feel confident in my ability to support the event in an appropriate and professional manner. I can’t wait for July 6.”
Self-employed training consultant Bryan Hopkins will also be volunteering along sector 19.
The 60-year-old, of Southgrove Road, close to Sheffield Botanical Gardens, said: “I am doing it because I have always been a keen cyclist, riding around the Peak District, and I love watching the Tour de France.
“Last year with my daughter, a doctor at the city’s Northern General Hospital, I cycled part of one of the classic stages, up Mont Ventoux.
“I want to help make it a great day for Sheffield and South Yorkshire, to do my best to make sure that everyone enjoys it and ensure it promotes cycling as a wonderful way to live.”
Teacher Julia Jones is hoping to relive her childhood of watching the race, as well as introducing her four children to the sport.
The event is already causing waves of excitement at St John’s Primary School in Penistone, where she works.
Julia, of Monk Bretton, said: “My parents have always watched the Tour and it is going to be amazing to have it so close to home.
“I don’t mind what I do as long as I am involved. You get to meet lots of interesting people and having worked at other events further from home, it is great that this is on the doorstep. The route goes close to our school so the kids are getting excited and making bunting.”