BBC Songs of Praise on Sunday June 29th was a special Tour de France edition from churches across the diocese, gearing up for the race the following weekend.
(Pictured left, Holy Trinity Church Skipton)
A film crew from the BBC’s Songs of Praise visited All Saints Parish Church in Otley in March, and presenter Connie Fisher had a go at bell-ringing under the watchful eye of the church’s Tower Captain, Meg Morton.
“It was great fun having the BBC team here, “ said Meg.” We’d known about it for a few weeks beforehand so we were quite keyed up. Connie Fisher was lovely, very genuine and enthusiastic and I think she could become a good ringer. I gave her a lesson and she got on very well with it.”
On the morning of the Grand Depart the bells will be sounding up until the arrival of the publicity caravan at about 10.13am.
Meanwhile, Yorkshire churches are turning yellow as the Tour approaches. Whether it’s the huge yellow jersey on the church tower at Holy Trinity Skipton, (pictured above) the giant yellow welcome banner at St Andrew Blubberhouses, or yellow bicycles hanging from spires, churches are gearing up to welcome thousands of spectators and visitors over the weekend of July 5th and 6th.
A huge Yellow Jersey adorns Holy Trinity Skipton as the church prepares for its Festival for the Grand Départ. There will be a variety of events and concerts in and around church – and the Labyrinth in the churchyard is already seeing the tread of many feet; some slow and contemplative and several more youthful and exuberant.
The Tour de France will come up Skipton High Street on the opening stage, Saturday July 5th, and the church tower will be a landmark feature as the cyclists ride towards it – at around 12.45pm. Plans for the climax of the Festival – the Big Yellow Party – are well advanced. There are still tickets available but numbers are approaching the maximum of 800 that will get a great view of all that is going on. (see the website at holytrinityskipton.org.uk).
All Saints Ilkley will be a hub for the Tour de France on Day One and the church has recorded a You Tube video explaining what’s going on. http://youtu.be/NAf07HSS9jw On July 4th at 6.30pm in the evening there will be an International Service for the many visitors and friends coming to Ilkley . A grandstand is being erected outside the church which will be available to watch the whole parade before and the tour on day 1
At St Andrew Blubberhouses on the A59 (Stage Two), the church which lies at the foot of the renamed Category 4 climb, the Cote de Blubberhouses, has been putting out the Big Welcome. Kevin, Rob and Dave of Basil Houldsworth & Sons Ltd., Otley, are (pictured above) putting a giant banner in place over the chancel roof, and bicycle on the tower.
St Andrew’s Church in Starbeck is marking the Tour de France passing right past its front doors on Sunday 6th July by opening both the church and the church halls as a café all weekend. St Andrew’s Church is next to Belmont Field which is being used as an official spectator hub on both Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July.
Many churches in the Bradford and Huddersfield Episcopal Area are planning events throughout Sunday July 6th. On Stage Two of the Tour. The race will actually go between one church and its church hall - St Philips Church, Birchencliffe on the outskirts of Huddersfield, on the Halifax Rd which is being decorated with yellow bunting and flowers. They are planning activities on both sides of the road! The Mothers' Union will be service tea and cold drinks and visitors can use the toilets, look round, sit down and rest. A local swing band will play in the grounds to entertain the crowd.
Mother’s Union members across West Yorkshire and the Dales are giving away special Le Tour teddy bears to welcome children to the event. Some of the bears have also been distributed to First Aid posts along the route in case extra TLC is required.
As MU Vice President, Jean Thurman says:
“Le Grand Depart will be a real family event in Yorkshire and Mothers’ Union wants all families to enjoy a wonderful weekend.”
Churches all along the route are preparing to offer hospitality as they decorate their churches – full details on the website www. lechurchletour.org
If you have been decorating your church, whether inside or out, please send us your pictures (as jpeg attachments to your email please) and we will be adding them to a Le Tour section of the website – enews [at] westyorkshiredales.anglican.org or web [at] westyorkshiredales.anglican.org