MANCHESTER VOWS TO PRESERVE ITS UNIQUE COLLECTIVE OLYMPIC /PARALYMPIC GOLD PILLAR BOX (particularly to honour all local GB Cycling lONDON 2012gold medallists)

Friendly Mancunian Bob, out exercising on two crutches happy to pose for me next to the city’s collective gold medalist commemorating pillar box. Bob felt motivated to work on his mobility because of the success of our Paralympian gold medalists.

 

Manchester has agreed to seek retain permanently the gold painted pillar box on Albert Square at the heart of the city as a collective permanent gesture to honour all the Olympian cycling medallists from London 2012. Royal mail with its iconic red pillar boxes, bearing the royal crown and the monogram of the monarch, celebrated, as Great Britain’s Olympian and Paralympian athletes enjoyed unprecedented success, record numbers of medals of all metals  and decided to recognise the achievements of our athletes by producing personalised commemorative stamps and by painting a post box gold in the hometown of Olympic and Paralympic gold medal winning athletes.

Traditional pillar box design in its customary Post Office bright red colour.

This is the concrete proof on a day to day basis of, and demonstration of, renewed  national pride inspired by both Games and fitting that one of the most iconic British items of street furniture, the ubiquitous post office red post box should be selectively gilded in the home towns and residency towns of our gold medallists.

The golden post box in the shadow oF the gothic magnificence of Manchester Town Hall in Albert Square.

The city of Manchester is a forward thinking, innovative vibrant, exciting place to visit equal in every department to the capital and in my view even more welcoming. It has  been incredibly successful in attracting and encouraging sports events and helping provide the infrastructure and world class venues for sports events and athlete training. The Manchester Aquatics Centre is home of Team GB swimming. ( Britain’s most successful Paralympian is swimmer Mike Kenny who won 16 gold medals in four Paralympic games )

Manchester Aquatics Centre home to GB Swimming and frequent venue for the annual BT Paralympic Swimming World Cup.

The state of the art Velodrome at Sports City to the East of the city centre the other jewel in the city’s sporting crown is the home of the  National Cycling Centre of excellence and home to the incredibly successful GB cycling team and GB Paralympians. In  Greater Manchester ( the county)  live some of the best cyclists the world has ever seen. Native and resident athletes of the Greater Manchester area brought to the city a veritable treasure chest of medals with a brace of Olympic and Paralympic gold.

Sir Chris Hoy during a Revolution event at the Manchester Velodrome, home of GB Cycling.

Originally , during the games, the pillar box at Manchester’s iconic showcase public space , the heart of the city, Albert Square, with its lavish architural splendour, the magnificent  Victorian gothic cathedral-like Town hall as a backdrop, was painted gold originally to honour the gold cycling medals won by  Philip Hindes’  in the  team sprint final with Bolton-born Jason Kenny,MBE  and Salford-based Sir Chris Hoy,MBE, Britain’s greatest ever Olympian but due to be repainted red eventually.

finished in 1877 at a cost then of a million pounds, Albert Waterhouse’s prize winning gothic design declared the city’s confidence and industrial wealth. It features a central clock tower 280 feet high – the clock mechanism has been telling Mancunians the time since1879.

The Manchester  conurbation is literally a gold mine for cycling success with an impressive list of Olympic medallists. These include , amongst and incredible 64 olympian and paeralympian athletes,  Wilmslow’s Victoria Pendleton, MBE, and Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King, all based in Fallowfield and Barney Storey MBE Paralympian golden tandem pilot and his amazingly successful wife Sarah Storey OBE (née Bailey) born in Eccles (Salford )and now resident in the Disley area. Others include Manchester-based  Geraint Thomas (Altrincham), Ed Clancy (Newton-le-Willows), Peter Kennaugh (Manchester) and Steven Burke (Colne). Sarah has now equalled record breaking Tanni Grey-Thompson’s tally of Paralympic gold medals. For a full list of all sixty four Greater Manchester Paralympians and Olympians follow this link – Mad For It !

Victoria Pendleton

The pillar box was due to be repainted red when routine maintenance is next due  but Councillor  Carl Austin, who is in charge of promoting cycling in the city, has written to officials at British Cycling and Royal Mail asking if they can make it a permanent fixture, complete with a plaque. It followed calls for a homecoming parade for the country’s two-wheeled heroes.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s royal cypher – R for the Latin for queen, (Regina)

He declared “The athletes from Manchester and the surrounding area that have won those medals and put this city, cycling and the Velodrome on the map.” He  urged the authorities to leave it gold for posterity in Albert Square, the communal focus of the city.  (It seems likely to me  that there will be calls to ask the royal Mail to leave all the other post boxes they have gilded  not to paint them red again.)  For more on post boxes in great Britain check here History of post boxes

 

Mrs Sarah Storey medal Queen of British cycling.

 Footnote  Sarah Storey OBE is  the most highly decorated Paralympians ever. with her victory at Brand’s hatch she pulled level with wheelchair athlete Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson’s eleven golds  and swimmer Dave Roberts, but Sarah’s  total haul of 22 medals is the largest in British Paralympian history.

Sarah equalled the record breaking gold medal tally of former Paralympic wheelchair racer Tanni who is now a peer in the House of Lords and champions  disability and women’s rights. Sarah holds the record for as the most prolific medallist in the history of the Paralympics.

In between her relentless  training schedule on track and on the  hilly roads  near her home the village of Disley, Cheshire East, on the very edge of the glorious Peak District National Park Sarah  is also a gifted motivational public speaker –she is a  business motivational speaker as well as specialising on topics such as  Change & Change Management, Diversity, Olympics, Overcoming Adversity, Sporting / Olympic Motivation and Teamwork. (The commemorative Royal Mail  postage stamp featuring Sarah can be seen here in her  local paper  Sarah’s Stamp )

Sarah in fact did a tour recently of her collection of four gold painted post boxes in Eccles (Salford) at Gilda Brook , where she was born; in Disley, where she grew up and where she now lives; in Poynton, where she went to secondary school, and in Macclesfield. From her website I want to quote a paragraph which sums up this  extraordinary athlete’s  career so far.

Mr and Mrs Storey, British Cycling’s most successful medal winning couple!

“Sarah topped the medal table for the British team with 4 Gold Medals from 4 events including an impressive World Record in her first event the C5 Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit. Sarah’s dominance of her C5 class at the London Games, put her a class above her rivals and further established her as a true heroiIn London 2012, at the biggest Paralympic Games of all time, Sarah topped the medal table for the British team with 4 Gold Medals from 4 events including an impressive World Record in her first event the C5 Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit.
Sarah’s dominance of her C5 class at the London Games, put her a class above her rivals and further established her as a true heroine of Paralympic Sport. In the build up to her success in London, Sarah rode several professional women’s road races and most noteably stood on the podium alongside Marianne Vos, 7 days before she won the Olympic Games Road Race.
Sarah is the most highly ranked Paralympic athlete in world sport and missed out on selection for the Great Britain Olympic team due to the strength in depth of talent at British Cycling. In the build up to her success in London, Sarah rode several professional women’s road races and most noteably stood on the podium alongside Marianne Vos, 7 days before she won the Olympic Games Road Race. Sarah is the most highly ranked Paralympic athlete in world sport and missed out on selection for the Great Britain Olympic team due to the strength in depth of talent at British Cycling ”
from the website – link here  TEAM STOREY SPORT

Detail of a shot I took of Sarah saluting the crowds after another win and personal best showing Sarah’s Autograph where I had given her a couple of A4 prints as gifts for her parents and asked her if she would kindly sign the shot of her for me which she graciously did. It now has pride of place on my office wall.

To view a small selection from my archives of  Paralympian track cycling photographs from one of my many visits to Manchester’s Velodrome here – GB TRACK STARS

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