A TOWN has won 'sign-language friendly' status ahead of its major role in the Tour de Yorkshire bicycle race.

In January, councillors in Bedale, North Yorkshire announced it would try and become the UK's second Makaton-friendly town.

Makaton, which is a form of sign-language, is designed to help children and adults overcome communication problems.

Over several weeks, more than 40 traders in the town were encouraged to take up sign-language training sessions.

Staff were asked to undertake basic sign-language training ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire, which will run between May 2 and May 5.

Bedale will feature heavily during the race as it will become the finishing point of Stage 2 of the race.

Councillor Carl Les of North Yorkshire County Council said: "The Tour de Yorkshire is all about bringing communities together and leaving a lasting legacy – we want everyone to enjoy the race and celebrate their local communities and this initiative helps us to achieve that."

Before the scheme began, Nick Reed clerk at Bedale Town Council said he was pleased that the town's traders had 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." Bedale will now join Romsey in Hampshire, as being one of just two towns in the UK that are officially Makaton-friendly.