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20ft Godiva rides into city; Homecoming for huge effigy propelled by cyclists.

Byline: STEVE BRADLEY

AN eye-catching 20ft puppet which helped wow the crowds at the London 2012 Olympics had to overcome a slight technical hitch as it was welcomed home.

The Lady Godiva marionette has returned to Coventry where much of it was built, propelled by its cyclopedia of 100 cyclists.

The mechanical effigy is styled on the legendary Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who rode naked on horseback through the city.

Billed as The Homecoming, the puppet completed a circuit of the ring road escorted by hundreds of cyclists, however the wheels nearly came off the procession when it encountered a tight bend.

The cyclopedia members had to quickly disconnect themselves as Godiva was man-handled around the corner, before the parade was able to get back on its way, to the delight of watching crowds.

It was created as one of several specially-commissioned pieces of public art marking the Olympics.

Jane Hytch, the chief executive officer of Imagineer Productions, the company which brought the concept to life, explained Godiva had had something of a make-over following "her trip to London".

"She's had her nails done, her feet done and her hair and neck done too," she said. "She's had a bit of a make-over because when she was on the journey last year she got whiplash from tree branches, she got rained on and all sorts of weather things and when she'd finished her nine-day tour to London she did look a little bit scratched.

"She looked like she'd had the best night out, but she's always smiling."

Godiva is also the figurehead for a PS7 million city scheme called Cycle Coventry, aiming to get more people out of their cars and into the saddle over three years.

Coun Rachel Lancaster, of Coventry City Council, said by getting people to follow Godiva on their bikes, people would be inspired to use pedal power around the city in future.

With a concept, the help of 17 engineering companies including the expertise of the aerospace industry, Godiva went from the drawing board to the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

Following her homecoming, Godiva is taking up temporary residence in a city hotel while a more permanent home is built.

Ms Hytch said: "If people don't hear from her for a bit then we get them emailing in saying 'where's Godiva?' "So I can tell you she's going to be based on the 17th floor of the Ramada hotel in Coventry while a purpose-built house is constructed for her here in about 18 months time."

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A PEEP: The huge puppet which has returned to Coventry, thanks to the cyclists, below
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 11, 2013
Words:437
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