Hereford Paralympian hero Sascha Kindred OBE was treated to a warm homecoming celebration along the picturesque River Wye which flows through the middle of the Hereford City Centre
I popped over to the Left Bank on Saturday (albeit a bit late) expecting the party to be over. The honour guard from Hereford Swimming Clubhad been and gone, the speeches had finished and all the carnival crafts from the Hereford River Carnivalorganisers had been crafted and put away. But what I found was a busy and vibrant courtyard outside De Koffie Pot with wonderful live music emanating from the Bandstand Stage courtesy of Sam Hufferand a plethora of happy children having a good jig thanks to the ever impressive organising efforts of John Steven Hales.
Herefordshire Pride Saturday 30 July 2016 @ The Booth Hallfrom 2pm, The Booth Hall, 3 East Street, HR1 2LW Hereford, Herefordshire http://theboothhall.co.uk/
The event is free throughout the day, but there will be a cost of £4 entry to the entertainment area for the evening acts, which includes free admission to The Venue.
If you have visited Hereford City Centre recently, you might have noticed the oval shaped Hereford Pride signs donated by the Mayor of Hereford and Herefordshire Council proudly beaming around every corner of the city. This is Hereford’s first LGBT Pride event and the numbers are building up with anticipation.
With a new breed of forward thinking entrepreneurs and an atmosphere of tolerance brewing in Hereford, compassionate locals are finding their voice and standing up against the antiquated and xenophobic veil that plagued the city for far too long. The influx of new cultures, new ideas and businesses is weaving a richer tapestry and perhaps …finally …Hereford has stepped into the 21st century. It’s time to welcome LGBT Pride to the city with open arms.
After an enormous amount of work and dedication, a group of very admirable volunteers and supporters have made the first annual Herefordshire Pride happen. Congratulations! Herefordshire Pride will be kicking off this Saturday at The Booth Hall from 2pm. We spoke to one of the pioneers of this event, Rebecca Ashton, to talk PRIDE.
There have been various LGBT+ friendly venues and events in Hereford over the years, but as with any scene, organisers and venues come and go and there isn’t always someone to take the baton immediately when a gap appears-but of course, that doesn’t mean it is not wanted or needed.
Hereford City Centric: Hello Rebecca, thanks for talking to Hereford City Centricabout Herefordshire Pride. We want to lend us much support as we can to this and future local Pride events.
As the organiser of Hereford Pride, can you tell me a bit about what prompted you to set this up and what it means to you? Are you doing this on your own?
Rebecca Ashton: This year’s Pride celebration was organised by the FACE Values board. The Herefordshire FACE Values Board was founded by Neville Meredith (Community Cohesion officer for Herefordshire Council) and his Police colleague, Inspector Nick Semper and launched in October 2014. The FACE Values Board aims to mirror the Home Office’s objective – to create a ‘Safe, Just and Tolerant Society’ The Board identifies and champions ‘FACE’ values; Fairness, Acceptance, Community and Equality and amongst other things, serves to challenge hate crime/hate incidents and support victims. The board has worked with many diverse and sometimes ‘hard to reach’ sections of the community, such as theMalayaleecommunity, Herefordshire Polish community, the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Hereford Taxi drivers and the Herefordshire Interfaith group.
The FACE Values Board have addressed some LGBT+ issues already, and instead of mainly focusing on hate crime, have conversely provided a much needed and previously missing social outlet for the LGBT+ community in Herefordshire. This has resulted in the vibrant and commercially successful #proudnight. This is an LGBT+ friendly night arranged and organised by the FACE Values Board, hosted at the Venue nightclub on the last Friday of each month, and through its continuing success has confirmed that there was/is an unmet need for a bespoke LGBT+ social scene. Hence the market for a Pride event was established.
HCC:It is nice to hear these other minority communities and the LGBT community are being supported, which certainly restores some faith in Hereford’s openness to diversity. The Booth Hall and the Venue, who are two of Hereford’s most important music venues, are pioneers in what they do and it makes me proud to know they are supporting the LGBT community. I will have to get down to one of those #proudnights at the Venue.
Is this the first Pride that has been organised in Hereford? I know it isn’t an easy task and I hope there are many more.
RA: This is the first ‘full scale’ Pride to take place in Herefordshire. There were some Pride events organised previously by Herefordshire Pride(the group), but unfortunately in an interview with Lydia Johnson of Newsquest Media in October 2013, it was stated that the group would be unable to continue due to a drop in support and lack of funding.
HCC: Have you had support from any other relevant entities who are influencers?
RA: We’ve had fantastic support from a variety of local organisations, businesses, services and of course, individuals. The Vice-Chair of the FACE Values Board is an employee of Herefordshire Council and they have been very supportive and given fantastic practical support, we’ve also received support from the Mayor and Hereford City Council who funded the official signs that you will have seen appearing around the city (hang on to them for next year folks!) and the t shirts that will be given away for free on the day. There will also be several organisations and services with a presence on the day who will be there to offer information and support.
It’s a pretty chilled vibe during the day with juggling, acrobats, circus performances, dance performances, acoustic music-maybe even a little bit of music from the army who will be in attendance with ten of their LGBT soldiers and the Hereford Roller Girls will also be there doing their thing.
HCC: I saw those signs and thought they were fantastic. Good job, and Jim Kenyon is one great Mayor. Having always resided in multi-cultural meccas and hubs that accept the LGBT community with open arms, it concerned me greatly when I moved to Hereford and noticed a lack of gay bars, clubs and just general establishments where the community could gather safely and freely until you mentioned #proudnight. Is there a reason for this? It doesn’t seem fair, unless I have missed something?
RA: There have been various LGBT+ friendly venues and events in Hereford over the years, but as with any scene, organisers and venues come and go and there isn’t always someone to take the baton immediately when a gap appears-but of course, that doesn’t mean it is not wanted or needed. We’ve had a really positive reception with #proudnight, and I’ve reconnected with a few familiar faces from back in the day which has been lovely and it’s also been fantastic to have received emails from people who are fairly new to the area and didn’t know how to connect with the LGBT+ community here, we’re looking forward to welcoming them.
HCC: Ah Yes…I do understand the nature of the business. I really believe you can start a movement here and this could have a positive Butterfly Effect that will encourage the diversity of LGBT life, including art, culture and sport in Herefordshire. Perhaps this will bring the LGBT community closer together and bring others from surrounding communities, counties and even Wales to Hereford Pride every year. What do you hope Herefordshire Pride will bring to to the local LGBT community?
RA: I agree with you and hope that bigger and better things will come from this and since this is our first attempt, I’m sure it can and will flourish-it is already much bigger than we anticipated it would be this year-we have people coming from all over the UK!-the response has been phenomenal and I’m not only deeply grateful to our contributors and supporters but I’m really proud of our city for getting behind it with such enthusiasm. The event serves to educate and inform those who are prejudiced against the LGBT+ community, whilst promoting inclusivity that addresses the esteem needs of those who feel marginalised-the benefits of this are manifold but we certainly would like to see the community as a whole coming together and working with us to make a better future for everyone.
We have an event survey that will be available-QR codes linking to it will be on posters around the event and Herefordshire Livewill be on hand with their ipods to go through it with people (although it is very simple). It will also be a pinned post on our FB account afterwards. We really want to hear people’s thoughts and opinions in order to be able to shape future LGBT+ events into what they want and need them to be. There is also space at the end for people to leave their contact details if they’d like to get involved with future planning, fundraising and organisation.”
HCC: Education is a powerful tool for breaking barriers and bringing communities together. So tell me what we have to look forward to at Herefordshire Pride at the Booth Hall?
RA: We’ve got all kinds lined up! It’s a pretty chilled vibe during the day with juggling, acrobats, circus performances, dance performances, acoustic music-maybe even a little bit of music from the army who will be in attendance with ten of their LGBT soldiers and the Hereford Roller Girls will also be there doing their thing. There will be face painting, an awesome retro ice cream truck, a gourmet hot dog cart, a photo booth and information stands with freebies-not forgetting the free Pride t shirts and wristbands.
Moving into the evening we’ll have stand-up comedy, live bands, aerial acrobatics, and of course our MTV star, Rogan and our headliner, the fabulousLou Safire and after all that, we’ve still got dancing and a spot of late night karaoke for those that fancy it, followed by a meet and greet with our headliner over at the Venue nightclub on Gaol St (It’s 18+ only after 5.15pm and there is a £4 charge to access the entertainment area for those that wish to, but that also includes free entry to the Venue nightclub).
HCC: That sounds like one fun-packed affair! Are there any supporters you want to credit through the no doubt overwhelming journey of putting Herefordshire Pride together?
7. There are lots of supporters that we’d like to credit (deepest apologies if I miss anyone!) The mayor and Hereford City Council for their kind donation and support,Newton FarmCommunity Associationhave supported this and provided practical help from the get-go, Arran and Willow at The Booth Hall have been tremendous, Ashton Creativefor providing us with such fabulous logo and poster designs, Sgt. Alan Cartwright of Suvla Barracks, West Mercia Police, Victim Support, HHL Male Domestic Abuse Service, West Mercia Women’s Aid, Integrated Sexual Health Services, Recruit1st, Let’s Talk, Addaction, The Independent Advisory Group, P.R Ellis – local author, Swinton Insurance, the lovely Valencia of the Kupcake Kitchen, PURE Dance Studios, KelPaul Brew Co, The Balloon Display Company, Helen Astley, Hereford Roller Girls, CJ Copner, Stephen Dodd, Sophie at Pink Elephant, Andie Jordan, all of our wonderful musicians, Rogan O’Connor, Lou Safire, Jess at Hereford Times, Nicola at BBC Hereford & Worcs, Printsome, Sunshine Radio, Free Radio, Steve Harrison at the Venue and everybody who has displayed one of our posters/signs-thank you to each and every one of you!!! I’d also like to credit the FACE Values Board; Insp. Nick Semper, Neville Meredith, Penny Ellis, Edward Hickie, Chris Hodson, Char Carter, Elysia Young, Hannah Young, Jayce Young, Gwyneth Gill, Jude Perks, Natalie Price, Stuart Blake, Rose Hunt, and Adrian Symonds.
That is one impressive group of supporters. Hereford City Centric wishes the LGBT community a happy Pride celebration and we look forward to next years celebrations as well. Thank you so much Rebecca and hats off to you and everyone involved for putting this together.