A RETIRED solicitor is one of 12,000 volunteer tour makers hoping to play their part in making the Tour de France extra special.

John Harris, 77, from Harrogate, will find out what his role will be when he reports for duty at 8am on Saturday morning.

Loading article content

The volunteers are being used as marshals along the route to help the race run smoothly.

The Yorkshire Grand Depart is the first event in the tour's history to use tour makers.

Mr Harris is a retired solicitor and local authority chief executive, and now sits as a trustee at Harrogate Theatre and the Royal Hall Restoration Trust.

He said: "I have always been fascinated by the Tour de France. I always watch it on the Channel 4 round-up in the evenings.

"I'm in total awe of the distances they cover, the speed they go, the climbs they make in the mountains and the fact it goes on over three weeks.

"It's not 100m over ten seconds these riders are doing - it's an incredible endurance event."

Mr Harris said he wanted to get involved as soon as he heard the event was coming to Yorkshire - and would be coming through Harrogate not once but twice.

He added: "Some of my family who live in London got involved as volunteers in the London Olympics and found it a great experience.

"I thought it would be great fun and it would be a minor way of participating."

Although he does not yet know know what his task will be he already knows he will be working somewhere on a three-mile stretch leading up to the first stage finish line in Harrogate.

To become a tour maker, Mr Harris had to go on a half-day training course in London looking at the three different tasks - flag marshal, crossing marshal and general route marshal.

"If the quality of the training is anything to go by it should be a great day," said Mr Harris, who added that all tour makers had been given a uniform, as well as suntan lotion and umbrella for alternative weather eventualities.

*Send us pictures of the celebrations as the Tour passes through your town or village on July 5 and 6.

Text NORTHERN ECHO to 80360, email newsdesk@nne.co.uk or tweet us using the hashtag #echotdf