A TOWN's bid to become sign language friendly is on track to become the UK's second Makaton friendly town ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire later this year.

In January, Bedale announced it would attempt to join the town of Romsey in Hampshire in gaining 'Makaton friendly' status.

Makaton, a special form of sign language, helps children and adults overcome communication problems.

But now, around 40 business from across Bedale have agreed to a scheme, which will teach staff basic Makaton sign language, ahead of the town's role in the Tour de Yorkshire bicycle race between May 2 and May 5.

Karen Pickles deputy head of Mowbray School, which teaches sign language and persuaded town councillors to back the town-wide training scheme, said: “The way people in the town have embraced this is fantastic.

"About 40 organisations have so far taken part in the initiative, which is way beyond our expectations – we’ve been taken aback by people’s enthusiasm.

"They’ve also come from a wide range of different organisations."

Masons Yorkshire Gin, Bedale Library, Big Sheep Little Cow, Bedale Community Baker, Bedale Beauty, Bedale Church of England Primary School and the Bedale Pet Shop are just some of the town's organisations whose staff have agreed to take part in sign language training sessions.

Donna Stothard owner of Bedale Beauty said: “What a great connection between pupils and staff from Mowbray School and local businesses, who have grasped this idea to become a Makaton inclusive town – within days of posting these training dates on a Facebook page, we had more than 10,000 views.

"Karen Pickles was amazing at presenting the 90 minute sessions – she made it fun and memorable, so we all left feeling confident at using our new skill.”

Nick Reed clerk at Bedale Town Council said he was pleased that everyone has got involved.

He said: “When the Tour de Yorkshire arrives, many – if not most – retail outlets and community organisations will be able to communicate about 30 basic signs, along with our stewards in the town.

"Just being able to say hello or thank you makes a huge difference to children and adults with communication difficulties."