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Behind the Scenes of the Tour de France in Sheffield: A Volunteers Perspective

Hi I’m Heather, I work at SportsDirect.com in the ecommerce department. I was a volunteer for The Grand Depart during the second stage from York to Sheffield.

How my story starts: 2 years ago I was a performer in the closing ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics and what an experience that was! Soon after this I signed up to volunteer as a Tourmaker for Le Tour De France; The Grand Depart as I heard it was coming through my home town of Sheffield and virtually past my door! I couldn’t miss the chance to be a part of yet another massive sporting event in the UK and show my love for the county of Yorkshire.

It took the best part of a year for my application to be accepted, thousands had applied and in the end 10,000 volunteers all over the country were accepted to be part of this historic event. Between April 2014 and the event, I took part in video training and 2 training events at the Copper Box; part of the Olympic Park and the home of Leeds United; Elland Road. At Elland I collected my lovely uniform provided by The Grand Depart sponsor which I would wear on the day, all I had to do now was swot up on the route and practice my friendly face.

All the Tourmakers were aiming to create the great atmosphere that the London Olympics had in 2012 thanks to the friendly Gamemakers (who were also volunteers), always having a smile and always being approachable. This was the first time Le Tour had used volunteers to help steward the routes so we were all part of something innovative and new.

The day came where Le Tour was making it’s way from York to Sheffield, the 6th July. The people of Sheffield had prepared their houses and local areas with yellow bunting, balloons and even put their armchairs out into the front garden so they could have a comfortable view. My meeting hub was in Hillsborough, where we were given our teams we were working with for the day, there was a little confusion as there normally is for events such as these but they were soon dealt with and ironed out. We were bussed out to our “sectors", this was when we all realised the scale of the event, waving to passers by already patiently waiting so they had a good spot. We felt like royalty!

The day had a lot of waiting around, the race didn’t arrive to us until around 4 o’clock and we started our day in our sector at 11 o’clock. All the local residents were friendly and had high spirits, providing the Tourmakers with teas and coffees to keep us going. The atmosphere in the near by park was electric! This was the main hub for Oughtibridge with a large screen to watch the entire race, port-a-loos, ice-cream vans and barbecues (along with several pubs).

Once we had word that the Peloton was near by everyone on the streets had their phones out ready to take pictures. I really wasn't expecting the amount of wind the riders created, my Tourmakers cap went flying off my head when they arrived! Thanks to us being near the end of the stage the peloton was spread apart with the Yellow Jersey to the back of the pack with the rest of the sprinters. Over in a flash but taking years to organise, these riders move with such speed and agility and it was an honour to welcome them to our great country.