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Aspiring Yorkshire athletes enjoy ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience with Royals at Grand Départ

News   •   Jul 08, 2014 10:39 BST

Five SportsAid athletes from Yorkshire enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime invitation from SportsAid’s Patron the Duchess of Cambridge to join her, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry at the finishing line of stage one of the Tour de France in Harrogate on Saturday.

One of them was cyclist Frazer Clacherty, 16 from Whitby, who in 2013 was accepted onto British Cycling’s Olympic development programme after just one full season of mountain-bike racing. He said, “I couldn’t believe how lucky we were. It is something I never thought would happen to me. It was an amazing experience.

“The Duchess asked me about my training and how I got into cycling and I explained how quickly it’s all escalated and how SportsAid has helped me.”

Later Frazer and the other SportsAid athletes were taken to VIP seats in the grandstand where they sat behind the Prime Minister.

“We were the same distance away from the finishing line and the podium,” Frazer explains. “The spot we had was unbelievable. I haven’t been to any Tour stages before and watching it live is something I never thought I’d be able to do as we’d never been able to travel to France before, so to have it in Yorkshire and to be there where we were was all the more special. It was definitely inspiring.”

Fellow cyclist Amelia Cass, 15 from Sheffield, agreed saying, “The atmosphere was incredible. The
amount of people there was amazing. We had a great view up in the stands behind David Cameron.”

Javelin thrower Joe Dunderdale, 21 from Sheffield, was recently selected to represent England at the Commonwealth Games. He described the day as “an incredible experience”.

“It was so much more than I expected,” he said. “First we met the Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry and then we were sitting behind David Cameron on the finishing line. I couldn’t believe it!

“I was quite nervous beforehand to be honest but they really put us all at ease. The Duchess was the first to speak to us and was really pleased to hear I’d qualified for the Commonwealth Games next month, and then William said they would try to watch me compete there.

“Thank you so much for the opportunity,” he added, “it was unbelievable.”

Gymnast Loukas Jones, 15 from Leeds, said, “It was amazing to be in the middle of it all and to meet
the Duchess.

“She was really into our sports and what SportsAid does and how it has helped us,” he said. “I told her how SportsAid has helped me travel abroad to competitions and pay for my equipment.”

Sheffield-based freestyle skier Molly Summerhayes, 17, whose sister Katie – also a SportsAid
athlete – competed at the Olympics in Sochi earlier this year, said, “Meeting the Duchess was amazing! She is so lovely and relaxing that all the nervousness you have goes away. She was really interested in the sports we each do and finding out about how SportsAid funding helps us.” 

She added, “All three of the Royals had different interests in the sports we do and different questions. They made us feel at ease and it was all quite surreal meeting them.”

The support that SportsAid has been able to provide for these rising stars of British sport comes from the Cue Ball, The Nottingham building society and supporters of SportsAid Yorkshire & Humberside.

SportsAid would also like to thank Welcome to Yorkshire for their hospitality during the Grand Départ,
and for making SportsAid one of the event’s legacy charities.

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