THE triumphant Grand Depart of the Tour de France has had an unexpected legacy – thanks to hundreds of wooden yellow bikes.
Carpenter and award-winning guesthouse owner Neil McNair had no idea what he’d started when he made his first plywood bike for the village of Bainbridge in the Yorkshire Dales.
“I’d made some big letters saying ‘Bainbridge welcomes the Tour de France’ and had some plywood left over so I made a bike and painted it yellow,” said Mr McNair, who runs the Low Mill Guesthouse in the Wensleydale village with wife Jane.
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“One of the parish councillors took it to a council meeting and I got an order for six more bikes and then it just snowballed.”
The 56-year-old started getting orders from businesses and homeowners throughout the Dales – as well as from visiting tourists knocking on the door of the converted late 18th-century corn mill.
By the time the Tour de France sped through his village he had made and painted a staggering 450 of the wooden bikes.
The four feet by two feet bikes were produced from 120 sheets of plywood and ended up all over the region. “It was amazing,” said Mr McNair, whose charitable efforts raised a total of £5,250.
“Once the orders started coming, we decided to donate the money to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. A friend was airlifted after a nasty accident in London and in the four years we’ve lived here we’ve seen the helicopter land several times on the village green. It’s a fantastic charity.”
The air ambulance had the busiest weekend in its 14-year history when the race passed through the region last month, attending 31 incidents between July 4 and July 6.
The charity’s regional fund-raiser Helen Gowans said: “Neil’s yellow bikes were a talking point throughout the Dales and really captured the spirit of the Grand Depart in Yorkshire.
“We can’t think him enough for donating the proceeds from his amazing effort to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.”
The emergency response charity needs to raise £9,990 a day to keep its two helicopters in the air - equivalent to £3.6m each year. It gets no direct Government funding and the only official help it receives is through the secondment of paramedics from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.