Paralympic hero Hannah Cockroft to ring in new era at the Piece Hall

Honoured: Hannah Cockroft is delighted to have been chosen to sound the bell
Honoured: Hannah Cockroft is delighted to have been chosen to sound the bell

Fresh from accolades for her on-the-track success, world record holder Hannah Cockroft considers the latest honour bestowed on her to be one close to her heart.

July saw Hannah take three gold medals for Great Britain in the World Para-athletics Championships, her new T34 100m, 400m and 800m titles adding to the seven she gained in previous competition at Christchurch, Lyon and Doha.

While she was in London with her GB squad team-mates, she was unaware that her fellow Halifax citizens had chosen her to signal the start of a new era of business at the Piece Hall.

“I had got a strange tweet saying ‘vote for Hannah’ but didn’t think more of it. I got the email confirming it on Tuesday - and it’s a nice welcome home,” said Hannah.

When the Piece Hall opens on Yorkshire Day - next Tuesday, August 1 - Hannah will ring the newly restored Piece Hall bell at 10am to signal the start of trading.

Back in 1779 it signalled the start of a frenetic two-hour period at 10am each Saturday morning when traders were allowed to sell their cloth. In 2017, it will signal the start of business for the Piece Hall’s latest generation of shops. Townspeople had been asked to nominate a local citizen they wanted to do the honours, choosing Hannah.

She is delighted and, as with many Halifax people, the Piece Hall has had a role in her life. She is also impressed with how it is looking ahead of Tuesday’s day of events, and feels it will bring visitors to the town.

“It’s a mark of honour, a fantastic thing. I’m proud to be from Halifax, I saw the Piece Hall with school and did my work experience here, and now it is amazing to come back and see it.

“It was sad when it was shut down for the work to begin.

“We kind of lost our heart - but we have got it back now,” she said.