A new play telling the story of an unsung sporting icon will take to the stage later this month.

Called 'Beryl', it tells the true story of cyclist Beryl Burton.

Beryl Burton is quite possibly the most successful woman you’ve never heard of.

She dominated cycling in the 50s, 60s and 70s, becoming world pursuit champion, national pursuit champion, road racing world champion, national road racing champion, British record holder, world record holder, an MBE and an OBE.

What’s even more remarkable is that Beryl had a heart condition and early in her life doctors had advised that she could never take part in strenuous activities.

When Maxine Peake, the playwright, was given Beryl’s autobiography as a gift she questioned why no one had ever written a play about her, and so she wrote it herself.

Director Chris Lawson said: “Beryl Burton showed the world what you can do if you really dedicate yourself to achieving your goals.

News and Star: Director Chris LawsonDirector Chris Lawson

"In her lifetime she didn’t get the recognition she deserved, but now thanks to Maxine Peake’s wonderful writing, she serves as an inspiration to a whole new generation of women and cyclists."

Theatre by the Lake is excited to be showcasing this story, especially as one of their own customer experience volunteers, Sally Pratt, raced with Beryl on several occasions in the 70s and 80s.

Sally belonged to a couple of cycling clubs around the Cheshire and Manchester area during her racing days, and even beat Beryl once on Beryl's home turf in the Leeds area in a 25-mile time trial.

However, she admits that Beryl was 'getting on a bit by then'.

Sally is also proud of once ‘splitting the Burtons’; she came second in another 25-mile time trial race where Beryl took first place and Beryl's daughter, Denise, who also became a successful international cyclist, took third position.

Sally said, "Beryl was a real inspiration, and we girls were often just vying to come second place next to her.

"She often expressed frustration in the lack of proper investment in women's cycling.

"She’d be impressed today by how far women's cycling has developed, and to see professional female cyclists reaching their full potential.

"Of course, as was her way, she'd be continuing to push herself to the limit."

Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s production of Beryl tours to Theatre by the Lake from May 24 to 28.

For tickets, click here.

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