Tour de Beryl


Rob, Aidan and I went to see Maxine Peake's "Tour de Beryl" at the Forum in Northallerton. It was a brilliant performance and moved me to tears several times; both with laughter and with sorrow.

This dramatisation of her life was played with three actors cleverly using very threadbare props and scenery, swapping roles as Beryl grew up. With bikes on turbo-trainers, much of the story was acted from the saddle of bicycles.

I had read of Beryl's life, but seeing her story acted out was very moving. I didn't know she had fought back against heart issues as a child, but I did know that she was under-recognised for her achievements.

There were about 100 people in the audience and our attention was held tight as the players described win after win and then... the retelling of her accident. It was tear-jerking.

The play finished with a listing of her race wins... most notably the 25 consecutive years of "Best British All Rounder"... the World Championship wins... the first woman to ride a 100 mile TT in under 4 hours... and she is still (at time of writing) the holder of the furthest women's 12 hour TT. When she set that 12hr TT distance, it was the first time a woman's record was greater than the corresponding man's record in the same event. Stunning effort.

Beryl Burton OBE was a real cycling legend and the play written by Maxine Peake was brilliant.

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