Memorial planned for racing great

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A CHAMPION cyclist who died during the 1967 Tour de France aged just 29 could be given a memorial in the village where he grew up.

Village leaders and historians in Haswell are firming up plans to honour world-class cyclist Tommy Simpson, an inspiration to Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Tommy was Britain’s most successful road racer up until recent times, having been the first Briton to wear the famous yellow Jersey in the Tour de France, Britain’s first road race champion and being named BBC Sports Personality of the Year 1965, which Wiggins won last month.

But controversy surrounded his death as an inquest revealed he had taken amphetamine and alcohol before he died on Mount Ventoux, Southern France.

Now locals from his birthplace of Haswell are looking to commission a memorial to celebrate the life of Tommy.

Alan Liversidge, chairman of Haswell Parish Council and a member of Haswell Regeneration Partnership, said members, along with members of Haswell History Group, had recognised that a number of famous names, including MP Jack Dormand, shot-putter John Watts and 1964 bronze Olympic medallist and steeplechaser Ernie Pomfrett and Tommy Simpson have come from Haswell.

He added: “The regeneration partnership is interested in trying to obtain funding for some kind of memorial – a statue has been mentioned, or maybe plaques on the houses where he lived.

“Unfortunately we haven’t got any further than that, but we were interested in Tommy because we think Tommy is just ahead of the others in terms of fame.

“People recognise people by their birthplace and we are definitely interested in doing something.” Coun Liversidge said the next step is to get in touch with Tommy’s family to see if they agree with the plans, and then get estimates for costs and confirmation of what form the statue should take, as well as looking at funding avenues.