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A woolly good idea – Tour de France bunting turned into charity blankets

Thousands of hand knitted miniature jerseys which were hung around the Harrogate district to celebrate the Yorkshire Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France are to be given a new lease of life by being transformed into blankets for charity.

Visitors to the Knitting & Stitching Show, which takes place at the Harrogate International Centre between 20-23 November 2014, will be able to see a team of dedicated volunteers creating the blankets as a lasting reminder of the historic weekend in July, and which will be sold to help raise much funds for a number of charities including Oxfam and Carers’ Resource.

The idea to use mini jerseys as bunting to welcome the Tour, the world’s largest annual sporting event, was originally dreamt up by students from the University of York. Harrogate Borough Council’s Park Team, who led the project, thought they would set the needle high by asking knitters for 3,000 small jerseys to create the unique display. However, they were overwhelmed by the response with over 23,500 jerseys being made to decorate the district during stages one and two of the race with contributions being sent from as far afield as Europe, Bermuda, Canada and New Zealand. The bunting remained in place until September, when it was taken down and washed ready to be stitched into blankets.

Councillor Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, Transport and External Affairs said: When we began the ‘Le Tour de Bunting’ project we had no idea that it would seize the imagination of so many people around the world. The district looked absolutely amazing with the colourful jerseys hung around the towns and villages. They certainly added to the magnificent spectacle which has become known as the grandest Grand Départ – the best in the entire history of the Tour.

There has been much talk of the legacy of the tour and I look forward to seeing how cycling develops in the district in the future. I am pleased to say that these knitted jerseys will have their own legacy, helping to raise much needed funds for a number of charities.

It is fitting that we return to the Knitting &Stitching Show this year to create these blankets as it was the event where we launched the ‘Le Tour de Bunting’ project twelve months ago. On behalf of the council, I would like to thank everyone who knitted the jerseys for the bunting – little did they know that their hard work would have such a long lasting impact. We are also grateful to the Knitting & Stitching Show for providing us with the opportunity to display these fabulous blankets to the public.

The blankets will be on sale in Oxfam’s Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon shops.

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