Olympic hero visits town in bike safety drive
Buy this photo » MP Robert Buckland and Olympic rower James Cracknell with young cyclists Myron Pires and Grzegorz Grudowski
OLYMPIC rowing champion James Cracknell was given a tour of Swindon yesterday as part of his new role as a budding European politician.
The sporting hero, who is now a Conservative candidate for the south west of England for the European elections, swapped his lycra suits for a smart jacket when he met children at a cycling safety event at Holy Rood Junior School yesterday.
He watched children weave in between cones on their bikes before hosting a special assembly.
This was followed by a trip to Chalkdown House, an independent hospital for people with complex brain injuries recently opened at Dorcan by the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust.
The all-round athlete suffered a serious head injury in a bike accident in 2010, and now spends much of his time promoting safety for cyclists as well as fundraising for charities helping people with brain injuries.
This was his second time in Swindon in recent years – last time he went to see Swindon Town FC play Reading.
“It’s hugely important that we can teach everybody to take responsibility for road safely,” said James. “Not just when we are driving but safety on the pavements or on bikes.”
He said he decided to take a more active role in politics after feeling passionate about the country having more flexibility with our involvement with the European Union.
“We are part of Europe whether we are in the EU or not but I think it is important to change our relationship,” said James.
In the afternoon he attended a private Conservative Party event.
Robert Buckland, the MP for south Swindon, said: “I’m glad to welcome James to Swindon. I’m very pleased he decided to visit Chalkdown House, a new facility for Swindon but one that is very important.
“I’m hoping this will be the first of many visits to the town.”
Deputy headteacher at Holy Rood Junior School Robin Christian said it was excellent to have the sporting star visit the children.
“His is a brilliant role model,” said Robin.
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