Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Need to Get a Gobby Spokesperson Who Will Shout about Our Region

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Need to Get a Gobby Spokesperson Who Will Shout about Our Region

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE FOX

FOR somebody who spends most of her time sitting down eating biscuits, I spend an unusual amount of my working life involved with sporting events.

There was the Great North Run and now, apparently, I'm the official poet for the Tour de France.

Nobody has properly asked me to be, and there seem to be no official trips to Paris lined up for me to hang out with Chris Froome and the rest of the peloton while going on about the poetry of burly blokes on bikes in lycra.

I did however perform poems at the glittering launch event for Yorkshire's Grand Depart in Ripon Cathedral and two big arena events for Tourmakers - the volunteers who will be stewarding the British legs of the race.

I got the opportunity to see a charismatic advocate for a region in action. Gary Verity is the head of the tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire and the man who dreamed up and made the I find the phrase bid for the Grand Depart.

'God's Own County' It's an event which is going to be bringing millions of pounds into Yorkshire and raising it's pro-file on the world stage.

mildly annoying and smug Yorkshire started off as rank outsiders and ended up beating off competition from the likes of Florence.

Their bid-maker is now Prime Minister of Italy, as Gary pointed out in a recent interview, saying it showed "the level of ambition" he was up against.

Gary Verity is a ruddy faced, flamboyantly suited and shirted man with flat vowels, a direct speaking manner and a slight air of the car dealer about him.

Christian Prudhomme, the urbane head of the Tour de France organisation, told the story of walking round Leeds with Verity and seeing the city's big screens burst into life with video messages addressed directly to him from the likes of Mark Cavendish, telling him how brilliant Yorkshire was. He was impressed.

It strikes me as just the sort of thing that Boris Johnson might have done.

A bit of theatre and flamboyant performance - also in evidence when Verity spoke to tourmakers at Leeds Arena.

I find the phrase "God's Own County" mildly annoying and smug when used by Yorkshire folk about their county but, goodness me, it's been an effective phrase in the past few months. …

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