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Sean Stevens on how Grimsby Pride was born...
Sean Stevens - Vice Chairman of Grimsby Pride
It all started with an idea….
The idea came from 2 friends wanting more than just a gay bar for the town and a chance to celebrate the heritage of the LGBT community. The nearest Pride event- Lincolnshire Pride was also in decline.
Once the idea was formulated we decided to ask to people what they wanted and to try and set up a committee.
A new committee was formed under the name of the ‘Proud Party’ and the journey began to make plans for what would be the first LGBT event in the area that had been carried out on such a scale.
Throughout the planning process the committee came up against plenty of obstacles and hurdles that needed to be overcome to make this event happen
After many months of hard work from many different people ‘The Event’ was ready to be launched, it was held on 12th September 2009 in what was the only gay bar in the area, the main stage was in the adjoining car park area.
The Event saw over 800 attendees and was deemed a success by all who contributed and attended
Grimsby Pride’s journey continued.
After the success of 2009 it was decided that we would put on the day again, at the same time of year and it would be bigger and better.
After many discussions it was decided to change the name from ‘The Event’ to Grimsby Pride. We found that there was a need for this celebratory day in our area and that plenty of people would support it
The next step was to find a suitable and permanent venue for the Pride day to be held as we knew that the number of attendees to the day would soon outgrow the somewhat cosy car park! The hunt was on for a location, after much deliberation the brand new, iconic, Meridian Park was chosen. Once this was booked we soon realised the task of providing the one day event would reach new heights in terms of organising and cost!!
The team soon rose to the challenge and got stuck in booking acts finding stalls and promoting Grimsby pride in its brand new format we had created.
The challenge brought many new barriers to over come and the new venue required more work than just turning up!! These were over come quite quickly with a new network of support we had built up in a short space of time
We had a big task on raising money to pay for this event and with the new support network we had built this was soon reached and the event was ready
On the 4th September we were ready to go. There were many questions that we asked ourselves; could we pull this off? And after a massive spend of £20,000 would anyone turn up??
The day opened and the people slowly but surely arrived in bigger and bigger groups, half way through the day we had already achieved our target figure for footfall, the day was turning into a massive hit before it had even finished
The many acts and stalls had proved to be a hit with the locals and people from further afield attending the event
By the time we closed we had had just short of 3000 people through the gates which, from the year before was a huge increase!!
This again showed us that there was a big need for this event in our area even though other prides were in reach of us, such as Hull and Lincoln
2010 was the year Grimsby Pride became a major pride contender
The journey is still going....".
After the massive hit the committee realised we could not let this event falter in any way. This family fun day needed to be a community event that was held every year.
The committee recruited more new faces that contributed new ideas for Pride
From this we decided Meridian Park would become the home of the Grimsby Pride event.
Over the years we had built a strong relationship with North East Lincolnshire Council with them being responsible for providing the event with a large proportion of the funding that it required. 2011 again brought its own set of challenges we reaIised this year we would have to go one step further, and we implemented a small fee of £3 on entry. This was not an easy decision, we wanted to keep it free but we realised for it t happen we would have to take this course of action.
With the action plan for the event sorted the new team could start to organize a whole new list of entertainers and performers to showcase their acts to the community..
The challenge was to ensure people felt at home and had a good time while remembering the ethos of what Pride means and celebrating the achievement of LGBT communities.
On12th September the gates opened once again, with the same questions as the previous year would people turn up?
Again the people drifted in with more families attending and didn't mind paying the small fee for a full day of entertainment
This year we added an arena, which we put different, acts in which was a storming success!!!
The day came to a close with just short of 3000 people attending our event!!
Grimsby Pride had firmly established itself in its home at Meridian Park as an annual one day event.
With Grimsby Pride now attracting a following the committee soon realised that it needed to ensure that the dream Grimsby and the surrounding area were living would not disappear.
With all the challenges set out in front of them the committee rose to every one of them and made sure that this would be a year not to forget
We implemented more advertising and widened the areas of advertising to attract and inform more people about the event.
We soon got to the day itself, and the gates were due to open at 11am, however by 10.30am we had a queue of hundreds of people. This for a small pride was unheard of, and which showed us we were in for a storming year! Through the whole day that queue did not go down. By the close of the day we had seen around 4500 people through our gates, and was a massive success.
We had brought in a new fun fair with bigger and faster rides, added new acts in such as a more local artists such as Rick Emsley who has a big following in our area. Brought new stalls in offering a wider range of information and more retail stalls for visitors to browse.
All in all this seems to be the formula Grimsby Pride has adopted and people have signed onto.
We see more and more families coming to us every year giving us their very own individual story of why they are here, which are great to hear!!
With a great 4 years behind us the committee knew there was no stopping now and it was time to take Grimsby Pride to the next level.
The committee re formed, but this time taking its time to find skilled people who could add pure talent to our group. Once we had done this it was time to give Grimsby Pride a face-lift and a new direction. This was a hard choice but one we knew we had to take one day soon. With this in mind a new corporate image was created for us to introduce to everyone!
This certainly worked in many ways, as we have brand new sponsors getting involved along with old ones as well, which is great.
The date is set and all preparations are done and ready for the 31st August at Meridian Park. The committee are asking the same questions as previous years: Will anyone come? Will you be there?
Come and join us and tell us what you are looking forward to!
or join us for all the latest on Facebook : www.facebook.com/grimsbypride
and Twitter @grimsbypride