A promise to an old friend is where it started for me!
I attended the original Salisbury Pride organised by my friend Kimberley Clarke in July 2016.
The event was a first for Salisbury and a very well attended first too. I was there with the local Trades Council supporting equality, diversity and with a strong hope for the future that events like this could go from strength to strength.
I became a City Councillor in 2013 and it got me thinking that my aim would be to support the community in whatever way I could to benefit all citizens of Salisbury. A seed of aspiration to see Salisbury Pride grow was planted in me on this day.
Louella from @Home organised the event for 18/19 but I was unable to attend so my information on these events is minimal. Though when it was published that I wanted to organise 2020 there was some dialogue which though well-meant left us at an impasse, where it was clear we couldn’t work together. I trademarked the logo and retain it as intellectual property (this is with consent of Kimberley who originally created it.)
I knew I was destined to be Mayor for 2020 and had (wrongly thought that Pride would be 5 that year!). I set about organising an event for June 2020, I had a few people express an interest in becoming committee members or supporters. We held a public brainstorming event in August 2019 at the George and Dragon (one of the primary venues of the first event). It had a few people attend and we wrote down our ideas. Craig took on the role of Operations Manager and he and I would often brainstorm together in the early stages.
A series of fundraisers were planned and there were promises of help and support, that night we all went away feeling positive and upbeat. Also funding applications were submitted to the local Area Boards and we waited to hear if we were successful.
The Bishops Mill agreed to host our first event organised by Marcus. Unity kicked our events off on 28.9.19. We were able to sell shots, and everyone seemed to have a fabulous night. everyone supported each other and the lovely Dixie was our hostess.
We held a superheroes and Villain's night for Halloween and Emmy the Manager at the Bishops Mill looked fabulous in her fancy dress. Again, the attendees were all happily taking part and having many photos taken.
We heard back from the Area Board and had to attend a meeting to present our case, our pitch was received warmly by some and not so by one Councillor, it made the South today news as I called her out for her comments were that of her personal view and in a role of councillor, we are there to represent all our constituents and not just those who share our opinions. She is religious and says that LGBTQ+ people are misguided by a powerful ideology. She was swiftly removed from her post of portfolio holder for social mobility, with an investigation into her conduct ensuing. She had a discussion with another committee member and her comments were trans-phobic. Well, that was our 15 minutes of fame and TV stardom over for now.
We did successfully get an award for £1000 at this meeting. We had applied to the Southern area board as well and were awaiting the outcome, which although we had bid for £2000 knew that they would only match the £1000 from tonight.
Our third event was Glitters and Gold at the end of November (it coincided with my birthday week, so I got to dress up long gown and all – the shopping trip for it was one Marcus and I wouldn’t forget). Our main event date was set for 13th June 2020, we all grew confident that our fundraising efforts would bring forth support and sponsorship aplenty. We were lucky enough to get support from Amanda and the team at The Chapel Nightclub and we held an Ibiza Night and a Pink tribute night to try a larger venue, sadly for whatever reasons these events were not as well attended as we wanted. So back to The Mill we went, we held events for Christmas Eve and New Year.
Remembering we wanted to cater for all genres and tastes we planned a Valentines event in Elizabeth Hall- a smaller venue where we had a drag cabaret night with a curry and bingo. £10 per ticket and we sold 22. I along with Mel, Sarah, Jenny, Sharon and Cath all set about preparing the hall for our VIP drag queens to entertain the guests. We all prepared the curry, and I was going to be MC/DJ for the night. The event went well, and the committee was spurred on that if we could continue a collection of events we would be on schedule for June.
Then......... the dreaded Covid-19 struck and completely koshered our plans, all fundraising ceased as we saw lockdowns close the hospitality and entertainment industry right down.
With a heavy heart, as we watched other Prides cancel and reschedule for later in the year, we cancelled ours and proposed a September date.
Knowing we would need funds in any case I planned to use the June date for a sponsored walk from Salisbury Cathedral to Old Sarum and back as it was still deemed safe to meet outdoors, and we could at least have space between us. The day was glorious, and we set off from Salisbury Cathedral Kirin came and took photos on the way, Cath and her family took part along with me Mel and Fran (in her mobility scooter, which was brave once we got to the terrain near Old Sarum and had to wiggle and jiggle to get safely up to the car park.
We had decided to split the proceeds with Wiltshire Mind as we are aware that people from the LGBTQ+ community often have mental health struggles and it became clear during the first months of the Covid pandemic that Mental Health was going to be pushed to limits for us all in various ways. Mental Health is another passion of mine and I organised Salisbury’s first Mental Health Roadshow in October 19 (on international mental health day). The wish again was to see more Mental Health support in Salisbury, something to work on in the future.Back to Pride, the walk was a success, and we raised enough funds for us to give Mind £300. The whole committee are proud of that.
Lock down ensued and although restrictions have been lifted with various schemes along the way we have yet to resume normal events. With the help of Dixie (one of our key acts and supporters) organised a virtual event, we had Carlton Brunton (Brunton Media) stitch all the clips together for a streamed event over many hours. Some of the posts were viewed by 48k viewers although we had our PayPal information advertised throughout, sadly didn’t raise many funds. All the acts were very kind at giving their time and we will forever be grateful for that.
Over the time up we have seen committee members come and go depending upon their commitments which we accept the Salisbury Pride UK door will always be open and a place of support for all.
We are hoping that our event on 29th May 2021 will be able to take place at Queen Elizabeth Gardens. The current complete lock down except for essential trips is making us look once more at virtual events and I am hoping the acts already paid will honour any newly proposed date should it be necessary. The vaccination programme for Covid-19 is now underway and we await announcement from the Government. Fingers crossed we eventually get our physical event.
We must stay strong and be positive that things will return to a new kind of normal, I am grateful to Craig, Jenny, Sharon, Tiffanie, Cath, Mel, Sarah, Ben, Louise along with others who I have may of miss the ongoing support they give me and the friendships we are all forming or strengthening. Also the entertainment team who have been a massive credit!
I also wish to thank the generosity of our sponsors and partners at Salisbury Pride UK.