Friday, 13 July 2012

Leeds' London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic stars enjoy civic send-off

Caption: Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Ann Castle (front row in centre) with Leeds athletes and coaches.

Back row (left to right): David Stone MBE, Sarah Barrow, Malcolm Brown, Edwin Jongejans, Adrian Hinchliffe, Alicia Blagg

Front row (left to right): Rebecca Gallantree, Claire Cashmore, Cllr Castle, Hannah Starling, Jack Laugher, Nicola Adams

The Leeds athletes bidding for glory at the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games were given a special send-off at Civic Hall today.

Athletes and coaches from Leeds and those based in the city who will be part of Team Great Britain were honoured at a ceremony hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Ann Castle as they get ready to compete in the world’s greatest sporting event in the capital.

The athletes attending included Leeds boxing star Nicola Adams, who is targeting an Olympic gold medal in the flyweight category to add to her victory in the European championships in Poland in 2011 and two world championship silver medals.

Also in attendance were the City of Leeds diving stars Alicia Blagg, Hannah Starling, Jack Laugher, Sarah Barrow and Rebecca Gallantree who make up five of the 12-strong Team GB diving team for London.

In 15-year-old Alicia Blagg from Woodlesford and 17-year-old Hannah Starling from Alwoodley, Leeds has its first-ever homegrown Olympic divers, and they will join another ‘young gun’ in 17-year-old Jack Laugher from Harrogate who will be looking to show the form which saw him break his own British record at the Olympic trials in Sheffield.

Their clubmate Sarah Barrow will be aiming to repeat the success which saw her and 10-metre synchronised platform partner Tonia Couch claim a historic first-ever bronze medal for Britain in the FINA World Cup event at the Olympic Park Aquatics Centre in February, while at the age of 27 Rebecca Gallantree is the most experienced of the Leeds quintet as she prepares for a second consecutive Olympic Games appearance.

Also attending the reception were City of Leeds senior diving coach Adrian Hinchliffe and diving age group coach Edwin Jongejans who will be part of the Team GB Olympic coaching team.

Leeds’ triathlon superstars Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee were unfortunately unable to attend as they are currently in a pre-Games training camp in Switzerland, but their coach Malcolm Brown who is also Team GB Triathlon Olympic Performance Manager was in attendance.

Looking ahead to the London 2012 Paralympic Games which take place from Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 9 September, Leeds-based David Stone MBE and Claire Cashmore were also being honoured for their selections to the Team GB squad.

David emerged as one of the stars of the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, winning two cycling gold medals and he will looking for more of the same in London, while swimmer Claire will be competing in her third successive Paralympic Games and aiming to add to her total of three bronze medals from Athens in 2004 and Beijing.

The names of all those other athletes and coaches representing Leeds and Great Britain at the Olympics and Paralympics who were unable to attend due to training commitments were also read out at the reception to mark their selections.

Leeds’ involvement in the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games has developed from having six athletes and support staff at the 2004 Games in Athens, to 10 in Beijing in 2008, and now a total of 30 heading for London.

Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Ann Castle said:

“It was a real honour to meet our Olympic and Paralympic athletes today and wish them all the best of luck on behalf of the city. They are sure to do us proud in London and we are really excited about seeing them perform at the best of their abilities at the greatest sporting event in the world and wish them every success.”

For more information on how Leeds is getting involved in the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, visit

Notes to editors:

The following athletes and coaches are from Leeds or are Leeds-based and will be representing Team GB in the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games:


Alistair Brownlee
24-year-old from Dewsbury, raised and based in Leeds. World champion in 2009 and 2011.Overcome recent achilles injury to go into Olympics as favourite and ranked number one in the world.
Event date: Tuesday 7 August

Jonathan Brownlee
22-year-old from Leeds. Under-23 world champion in 2010 and winner of two world triathlon events this season. Goes into Olympics world ranked number two behind older brother Alistair.
Event date: Tuesday 7 August

Malcolm Brown
Current Team GB Triathlon Olympic Performance Manager. Coach of Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and former Director of Sport at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Jack Maitland
Team GB triathlon coach and current Carnegie director of triathlon at Leeds Metropolitan University.


Nicola Adams
29-year-old from Leeds competing in the 51kg flyweight category. European champion 2011 and double world championship silver medallist.
Event date: 5-9 August


Alicia Blagg
15-year-old from Woodlesford in Leeds competing in women’s 3-metre synchronised event with City of Leeds clubmate Rebecca Gallantree. Member of City of Leeds Diving Club based at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport.
Event date: Sunday 29 July

Hannah Starling
17-year-old from Alwoodley in Leeds competing in women’s 3m springboard event. Member of City of Leeds Diving Club.
Event date: 3-5 August

Rebecca Gallantree
27-year-old from Chelmsford who attended University of Leeds and is member of City of Leeds Diving Club. Competing in the 3m synchro with Alicia Blagg and 3m individual springboard event. Second successive Olympic Games appearance.
Event date: Sunday 29 July and 3-5 August

Sarah Barrow
23-year-old from Plymouth who attended Leeds Metropolitan University. Member of City of Leeds Diving Club who will be competing with Tonia Coach in 10m synchronised platform event. Won bronze medal at FINA World Cup event in London this year.
Event date: Tuesday 31 July

Jack Laugher
17-year-old from Harrogate competing in the men’s 3m springboard. Finalist in 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai. Joined City of Leeds Diving Club in 2010.
Event date: Tuesday 7 August

Adrian Hinchliffe
City of Leeds senior diving coach and member of Team GB coaching team. Preparing for third Olympic Games after being part of coaching set-up in Athens 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

Edwin Jongejans
Dutch former world champion now City of Leeds diving age group coach and part of Team GB coaching staff for first time at London 2012.


Micah Richards
24-year-old defender from Leeds who helped Manchester City claim their first league title for 44 years in May. Selected by Team GB manager Stuart Pearce as one of three players allowed over the age of 23 for Olympics squad.
Event date: 25 July-11 August


Claire Cashmore
24-year-old from Kidderminster who attended University of Leeds and is a member of City of Leeds Swimming Club based at the John Charles Centre for Sport. Won bronze medals in Paralympic Games in 2004 and 2008.
Event date: Multiple events from 30 August-8 Sept


David Stone MBE
31-year-old from Birmingham who now lives in Rawdon who won gold medals in Beijing Paralympics in 2008 in road race and individual time trial events.
Event date: 5-8 September

Lizzie Armitstead
23-year-old from Otley competing in women’s road race. Team pursuit world champion in 2011.
Event date: Sunday 29 July


David Webb
29-year-old from Birmingham now a member of Leeds City Athletics Club selected to compete in men’s marathon.
Event date: Sunday 12 August

Johanna Jackson
27-year-old from Redcar competing in 20km women’s race walk. Won gold in Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. Attended Leeds Metropolitan University and trains there at National Centre for Race Walking.
Event date: Saturday 11 August

Hannah Cockroft
20-year-old from Halifax competing in Paralympics wheelchair sprint events. Current world record holder over four distances. Trains at John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds.
Event date: 31 August, 4 & 6 Sept

Laura Weightman
21-year-old from Morpeth currently attending Leeds Metropolitan University. Competing in women’s 1500m. Coached by 1984 Olympic silver medallist Steve Cram who still holds three British records.
Event date: Friday 10 August

Andi Drake
Head coach of National Centre for Race Walking at Leeds Metropolitan University and coach to Johanna Jackson. He has led the development of a number of British race walkers who are now competing at the top international level.


Debbie Flood
32-year-old from Guiseley competing in women’s quadruple sculls. Won silver medals in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
Event date: Wednesday 1 August

Water polo

Adam Scholefield
27-year-old from Leeds has proved himself one of Britain’s top centre forwards. Plays professionally for PVSK in Hungary.
Event date: 29 July-12 August

Ed Scott
24-year-old goalkeeper from Bolton currently attending University of Leeds. Helped Team GB achieve a best-ever fourth place result at the 2009 European B Nations trophy event.
Event date: 29 July-12 August


Natasha Perdue
36-year-old from Swansea competing in women’s 69kg event, who worked until recently as a refuse collector for Leeds City Council. Emulating her late father Terry who competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games.
Event date: Wednesday 1 August

Jack Oliver
21-year-old University of Leeds student from London competing in men’s 77kg event. Achieved a personal best at last year’s World Weightlifting Championships in Paris. Trains at GB High Performance centre at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Event date: Wednesday 1 August

Gareth Evans
26-year-old from Holyhead, North Wales, competing in men’s 69kg event. Began lifting aged 12 and is making Olympic debut after third-place finish in Commonwealth Championships in South Africa. Based at GB High Performance centre at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Event date: Tuesday 31 July

Ali Jawad
23-year-old Paralympic weightlifter originally from Lebanon competing in men’s 56kg event. Former world and European junior champion. Trains at GB High Performance centre at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Event date: Friday 31 August

Tamas Feher and Fiona Lothian
Team GB head coach and performance manager respectively, based at GB High Performance centre at Leeds Metropolitan University. Produced most lifters to compete for GB at an Olympic Games since Barcelona in 1992.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Leeds City Council,
Senior communications officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472

Hottest seats in town take top billing at Leeds Arena

An unusual view of the city from the Leeds Arena roof

Inside Leeds Arena as preparations start for seats going in today

New seats being installed today will be the hottest tickets in town as big-name international acts are already being lined up to play to them at the world-class arena being built in Leeds.

It will be a significant milestone as the first of the eye-catching red seats are going into the striking Leeds Arena building today (Friday July 13).

The city centre venue, which promises to be a hugely-popular essential stop-off on the international touring circuit, is structurally almost complete and is now moving into a new construction fit-out phase.

Every single one of the 12,250 seats will have an uninterrupted view of the performers and thanks to the arena’s advanced super-theatre format those views will be unrivalled in how close and clear the stage will appear for the considerable size of the venue.

Leeds Arena will be capable of hosting 13,500 people, with up to 4,000 of those being able to enjoy events standing, thanks to the flexible lower tier retractable and flat-floor seats. Audiences could see big-name music stars, sports events, comedy acts, family shows, major televised awards ceremonies and many other types of performance.

Leeds City Council has commissioned and will own the £60 million arena, which is being built by BAM Construction and will be operated by SMG Europe. Construction will be complete in March 2013, followed by a couple of months final fitting out, and SMG will decide when to open it.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development, Leeds City Council, said:
“Leeds Arena will offer an incredible viewing experience genuinely unlike any other venue of its scale. People will be amazed at how intimate the experience will be given the building’s generous capacity.

“It is going to be a massive asset to Leeds and really put it on the international music map, allowing local people to see some of the world’s finest performers right on their own doorstep.

“It has been really exciting to watch this building grow and develop over the past few months, to the point where now its shape and form can be clearly seen, giving people a real sense of what it’s going to look like when it’s completed next year. The installation of the seats is yet another significant milestone in the construction of this amazing building.”

John Knight, regional vice president, SMG Europe, said:“As another significant milestone is reached in the construction, excitement is really starting to build within the entertainment industry about Leeds Arena. We are in advanced talks with promoters and agents who are adding Leeds to the touring schedules of some of the world’s biggest artistes and shortly expect to be in a position to name acts in the opening season.

“The unique design means that not only the seats being positioned today but every seat in the venue will have a great view facing the stage. This will create one of the most intimate atmospheres in European arenas, ensuring Leeds Arena will host a wide range of world class performers across pop, rock, r ‘n’ b, classical concerts, sporting events, family shows and comedy.”

Gordon Alexander, construction manager for Leeds Arena, BAM Construction, said:
“Leeds Arena is really starting to take shape and we are very pleased with progress. We work on many high-profile, iconic construction projects and this is one of the most innovative on design and build. It will be an outstanding, high-quality building and one of the finest entertainment venues to be built in recent years.”

• The striking red seat colour is intended to both create an intimate, warm atmosphere and given the arena’s super-theatre format, to partly reflect traditional seating at the Leeds Grand and City Varieties theatres.

Notes to editors
SMG Europe is the largest operator of sports and entertainment venues in Europe, such as the Manchester Evening News Arena and the city’s Bridgewater Hall, the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena and the K├Ânig Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany. Its parent company, SMG, is based in Philadelphia and operates over 200 venues and public facilities worldwide.
BAM is part of Royal BAM Group, with an impressive pedigree in the construction of large prestige buildings. It was a key contractor behind two of the stadiums in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa- including Soccer City, home to the FIFA World Cup Final. They also led on the £9.2m refurbishment of the Leeds City Varieties theatre and constructed the award-winning Leeds Metropolitan University building, the Rose Bowl.
For inquiries about construction employment or training opportunities at the arena site, contact Catherine Fay, Construction Leeds, on 0113- 881 4815
People can take a look at how work is progressing at the arena’s visitor centre, open Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm. Go to the site entrance on Clay Pit Lane and ask the security staff to direct you there.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Communications Manager, Press & Media Relations
Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335


Elusive stray dog caught after steak out

Dog warden Gavin makes sure Belle gets the care she needs after her time on the streets

The dedication and persistence of the council’s dog wardens have paid off after they rescued a stray that locals had reported seeing over the past four months.

Wardens were able to coax the greyhound into their care with steak after reports of the dog wandering the Newhall Road area of Belle Isle starting coming in, in February.

Despite numerous sightings, initial attempts to capture the stray – nicknamed Belle by wardens – were unsuccessful as her turn of speed and regular escape route across the wide, open spaces of Middleton Golf Course left locals and wardens in the starting blocks.

Although kind-hearted residents were feeding Belle, wardens were growing increasingly concerned for her welfare. With particularly wet weather recently and the potential for Belle to be hurt in an accident while roaming the streets, wardens were keen to keep her safe.

The wardens, supported by staff from the locality team, finally managed to put Belle’s extended bid for freedom to an end after tempting her taste buds with steak.

Having been checked over by a vet, Belle is reported to be suffering nothing worse than sore paws from living outdoors for such a long time. Vets have also detected a slight heart murmur.

An identification tattoo indicates she may come from Ireland, but it doesn’t provide any clues as to who her owners may be. Belle is now in the care of greyhound rescue charity Tia Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue.

Dog warden Gavin Jarrett said:

“We’re very relieved now that Belle is getting the attention she needs. She gave us the run around for a while but patience and bit of steak did the trick.

“We would love to return Belle to her owners, but unfortunately, she isn’t microchipped. If she had been, it would have taken us minutes to find out where she came from. All the details from the microchips are held on a national database so it wouldn’t matter how far she’d roamed.

“Microchipping doesn’t cost much, considering the distress it can cause if a much-loved pet does wander, and some organisations will even microchip dogs for free. We can’t recommend it enough.”

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said:

“Thanks to the patience and persistence of our staff, a potential tragedy has been averted.

“Stories like Belle’s only serve to remind us how important it is to be responsible dog owners and have our dogs microchipped.”

To help avoid more dogs like Belle wandering the streets unclaimed, Leeds City Council has teamed up with the Dogs Trust who will be offering free microchipping for dogs on Friday July 20.

Dog wardens will be on hand to chat to people about the new dog control orders in Leeds and offer their wealth of experience and advice to help Leeds residents be responsible dog owners.

Join the wardens and Dogs Trust at Watsonian Pavilion in Crossflatts Park, Beeston from 11 am to 3pm.

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577