FORMER professional English racing cyclist Paul Curran from Thornaby was in Stokesley on a wet Saturday for the launch of ten cycle racks being installed around the town.

The racks have been part-funded by the North Yorkshire Community Fund and Stokesley Town Council. The initiative is one of the measures taken by the Stokesley Bounce Back Group, a working group of Stokesley town councillors who are trying to increase footfall in Stokesley and help businesses to get through this very difficult time.

The launch started at West Green Deli, a coffee shop owned and run by Ashma Abdulrob, who is interested in fitness and runs up Roseberry Topping every morning before work. Her café is a regular stop-off for cyclists visiting the town and is a firm favourite with members of the Stockton Wheelers Cycling Club, of which Mr Curran is co-chairperson.

Other locations of the racks are at the White Swan, Sadlers Restaurant, Chapters Deli, Stokesley Fish and Chip Shop, Couplands Bakers, The Truffled Hog and outside il Mulino.

The racks will allow cyclists to enjoy a drink and food while being able to see their expensive bike parked up securely.

Paul Curran began riding for his local cycling club Stockton Wheelers and started competing at the age of 14. He rode for Great Britain in the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

He has also won the National Road Championship and won several Commonwealth Games medals at Brisbane in 1982 and at Edinburgh in 1986, including two gold medals. His career ended when he broke his back in a collision with a motorbike during the Tour of the Pennines in 1996. He has continued to ride socially ever since as well as taking a lead role back at his local club.

Also attending the launch was 82-year-old Jim Speight from Newby. He was a member of Stockton Wheelers for many years, but still rides into Stokesley on a regular basis for a drink at one of the cafes or pubs.

Stokesley Bounce Back are now looking into placing some electric vehicle charging points throughout the town so that electric car owners can drive out to Stokesley and charge their car whilst doing their shopping or taking refreshments.

It is also hoped to develop Stokesley as a gateway to the North York Moors, encouraging visitors to call in Stokesley on the way or on their way home. A town map has been produced that will be available from local shops and the Town Hall.