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£70,000 funding secured for cycling opera… with cast of thousands

Opera celebrating legendary cyclist to be staged as part of Scunthorpe's Olympic legacy...

An opera charting the life of Scunthorpe cyclist Lal White, a steelworker who won Olympic silver for Great Britain in the team pursuit at Antwerp in 1920, has officially been given the go-ahead after securing £70,000 in funding.

The work, called The Cycle Opera, in which 2,000 people will participate, also covers cycling’s heritage in the region surrounding the North Lincolnshire town. It has been commissioned under the Yorkshire and Humber region’s Olympic legacy intiative, called imove.

The libretto has been written by poet Ian McMillan, based on responses to an appeal last year by organiser Sue Hollingworth for locals to get in touch and relate their stories of the cyclist. The score has been written by Tim Sutton, a judge on BBC3’s Choir of the Year.

Project manager Kirsty Halliday told the website This Is Scunthorpe: "It's incredibly exciting and it's a really big challenge for all of us.

"It's such a big project and we're all absolutely delighted to be involved in it," she continued.

"It's real now because the funding was the spur to make it happen and it's fantastic for us that something like this is happening in Scunthorpe."

The performers will be provided by Scunthorpe Cooperative Junior Choir and Proper Job Theatre Company, with organisers saying that the idea is to combine art and sport and highlight Scunthorpe’s creative talent.

Two performances of the work are planned, penciled in for July 14 and 15 at Glanford Park and coinciding with a festival featuring arts performances such as street theatre and stalls celebrating local cyclists.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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