News digest – Yorkshire makes most of Olympic Games
How Yorkshire is beginning to make the most of the financial gains from one of the greatest sporting spectacles. Esther Leach reports
It’s never too soon to stake your claim in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as Yorkshire businesses have begun to discover. No matter what your line there is an opportunity waiting to be grasped.
Even the smallest enterprise has a chance such as That Company Called If, manufacturers of gift products in Pickering, North Yorkshire. The business which employs 37staff has won a contract to become the sole supplier of bookmarks and book related gifts for the Games. The licence was granted earlier this year and work has already begun on the souvenirs for sale as official London 2012 products.
It means too the creation of new jobs. Their marketing manager Sarah Blackwell said they expected the business to grow because of it. ‘We expect the association with the Games to help raise our profile,’ she said. The company also has plans to build a new warehouse and employ more staff.
Andrew Laver, grandson of Arnold Laver founder of the well established and successful Yorkshire-based timber merchants, said they began preparing to pitch for contracts the day it was announced that London won the bid to stage the Games. ‘We believe the Olympics are not just about London but about benefiting Yorkshire and the rest of the country,’ said Andrew whose company is producing more than half the timber to construct the Olympic Park in East London including the Velodrome.
Hull-based ARCO, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, tendered and won a three-year contract to provide protective equipment including eyewear, gloves, safety footwear and high visibility vests. The equipment is already being used by the Olympic Delivery Authority responsible for developing and building the venues and infrastructure for the Games. All visitors as well as those working on the construction site will use protective wear produced by Arco.
Portakabin based in York has become greatly involved in the development of the Olympic Park where they are already providing temporary accommodation for 400 staff. The three-story building includes a medical centre, security offices and an introduction and training centre.
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Work has begun on a second three-storey building – the command control office – and Portakabin will create another four buildings over the next six months.
East Coast Rail doesn’t plan to miss out either with special Olympic Games travel packages that will encourage people visiting the Games to spend time in Yorkshire. ‘Yorkshire is just two and half hours away from London by train and we will be introducing a new timetable and extra services,’ said the railway’s spokesman, John Gelson.
Of course it is not all about business. Young athletes from Yorkshire who have toured the Olympic Park are inspired by what they have seen. One of them, wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft, 18, from Halifax, a triple world record holder, trains almost continuously. She scanned the building work from a nearby terrace overlooking the Olympic Park and her face became wreathed in smiles. ‘It’s tremendously exciting. I want to be here. It will be worth all the hard work.’
Nicola Adams, boxer from Leeds has just returned from the Women’s World Boxing Championship with a silver medal and is confident of winning a place on the podium in 2012 when women’s boxing will be introduced as an Olympic sport for the first time. She couldn’t help smiling either as she took in the site of the games.
Swimmer Matthew Johnson, from Dewsbury, is just 14 and already on record as being faster than US swimming sensation Michael Phelps at the same age and already has more than 50 GB titles under his belt. He quietly took in the whole scene. He aims not only to win gold across all four swimming strokes but to smash records too.
Yorkshire will also be home to overseas athletes training in this country for the Games. Brazil has just announced it will use Sheffield for its judo team’s international training camps over the next two years. Judo is one of Brazil’s highest profile sports in past Olympic Games and the nation ranks among the best in the world.
Gary Verity, chairman of Yorkshire Gold, the regional committee for London 2012, said: ‘With the Serbian Olympic squad and the US Divers team also heading to Sheffield in 2012 this latest signing highlights the wealth and diversity of sporting facilities in the city.
‘Six Olympic squads from across the globe have now agreed to base themselves in Yorkshire prior to the Games and with more to follow the county can expect excellent cultural and economic benefits in 2012.
‘I look forward to extending a warm Yorkshire welcome to the Brazilian Judo Squad and all the other Olympic training teams coming to the county in 2012.’
The route of the Olympic torch relay through the country has yet to be finalised but it will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the county. Gary Verity said the Olympic torch will spend four or five days in Yorkshire, with lots of runners each carrying it 300 meters.
‘The torch will cover a huge amount of ground, and visit virtually all parts of the county. Images of the Olympic torch going past our great iconic landmarks, whether that’s York Minster or the Winter Gardens in Sheffield or Sutton Bank, will be beamed around the world,’ he added.
And Yorkshire has ambitions to take part in the opening ceremony of the Games. But that’s another story we hope to tell you soon.
The Olympic Park
The Olympic Park is being built on 2.5sq km of former industrial, contaminated land in East London.
The Olympic Stadium will be on an island surrounded by waterways on three sides. Spectators will reach the stadium using five bridges.
Inside the Stadium are changing rooms, medical support and an 80m warm-up track.
Riverside gardens, markets, events, cafes and bars will fill the southern part of the Park.
At least 2,000 semi-mature British-grown trees will form the roots of the Park’s green spaces and become home for wildlife.
The Park includes not just the Stadium, but the Aquatic Centre, the Velodrome, a Hockey Centre, a Handball Arena and Basketball Arena as well as the Olympic Village for athletes and Media Centre.
After the Games the Stadium will become a venue for athletics and other sporting, cultural and community events.
The Olympic Park will be renamed after the Queen when the Games end.