• Beryl

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

When actress Maxine Peake was given cyclist Beryl Burton’s autobiography as a gift she questioned why no one had ever written a play about Britain’s unsung sporting legend, and so she wrote it herself. The result is an inspirational tour de force fuelled by rhubarb, northern charm and fierce determination. 

As a child, doctors told Beryl that she could never take part in strenuous activities due to a heart condition. When she met future husband Charlie, and he introduced her to the local cycling club, her life changed forever. 

Proving that she can do anything she put her mind to, Beryl went on to become the greatest woman on two wheels, dominating the sport in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s: five times world-pursuit champion, thirteen times national champion, twice road-racing world champion, twelve times national champion, British record-holder, world-record holder, MBE, OBE.

Sometimes it’s the stories that are true that are the most unbelievable.

By Maxine Peake
An Oldham Coliseum Theatre production directed by Chris Lawson

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If Beryl Burton were French, Joan of Arc would have to take second place as the nation's most revered female icon

The Guardian

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