In the year the Tour de France comes to Yorkshire, British Cycling has thrown its support behind a new play celebrating the life of British cycling great Beryl Burton.
Written by Maxine Peake, of TV’s Silk and Shameless, the play ‘Beryl’ will look back at a career which saw the famous Yorkshire cyclist win seven world championships on the road and the track during the 1960s.
Beryl Burton was one of the greatest cyclists in the history of the sport and her determination to win was remarkable, inspiring her to two world road titles, five world pursuit championships, multiple national titles, numerous sports awards, an MBE and an OBE.
The play was originally scripted and broadcast on BBC Radio 4, but will be brought to life as part of the 2014 Yorkshire Festival on the stage of West Yorkshire Playhouse, opening on 30 June and running until 19 July.
Beryl Burton is a founder member of British Cycling’s Hall of Fame and her achievements will be discussed in a unique panel event on the opening night, with experts from across the world of women’s sport discussing the question: ‘‘How much has been achieved since Beryl Burton and what still needs to be achieved for women in sport?’.
Olympic silver medallist, Emma Pooley will be on the panel as one of a generation of riders inspired by the exploits of Beryl Burton. She will be joined by Beryl’s daughter Denise, herself a world championship bronze medallist on the track, Shelley Alexander who serves as editorial lead for Women in Sport at the BBC, Dr Carol Osborne a senior lecturer on sport at Leeds Metropolitan University and British Cycling Women’s Network Project Manager, Natalie Justice.
Pooley, who also sits on the UCI Women’s Commission which explores how women’s cycling can continue to grow, is looking forward to the opening night of the show.
“It should be a fantastic night. When you look back at the achievements of Beryl she really did lead an incredible life. Had she been riding today hers would be a name that millions of people across the country would know. To be a seven-time world champion in any sport is an incredible achievement.
“It is a fantastic way to celebrate her life and recognise just what an inspiration she was to so many and the panel offers a great chance to discuss her legacy, how far women’s cycling has come and how far we still have to go.”
British Cycling launched an ambitious strategy in 2013 to get one million more women riding bikes by 2020, a target for which the organization is on track to hit.
As well as supporting the play, British Cycling has provided a striking photography exhibition called “Women in cycling: A journey of inspiration.” The exhibition highlights some of the remarkable achievements of women cyclists from the UK, including Beryl Burton, Emma Pooley and many others. This exhibition is free and opens on the same night as the play.
Tickets to see ‘Beryl’ range from £12 to £23, the show running for approximately two hours.