Plymouth Hoe is the centre of our waterfront city and provides one of the most stunning locations for a Pride Celebration in the UK!
What an amazing journey over the past three years Pride in Plymouth presented Plymouth’s first proper outdoor pride in 2012 with a music festival held in Devonport Park utilising the then new HLF funded bandstand. We returned to Devonport Park in 2013 with an even bigger event. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Devonport Park, the facilities and support on offer from the ‘Friends of the Park’ was second to none.
The main downside with Devoport Park was it’s location for pride – it was just that bit too far out to accommodate a parade a vital component of any cities pride celebration.
Therefore shortly after the event in 2013 we started looking for a more central location the Hoe being our preferred choice, we also looked at the University and Drakes Place. Plymouth Waterfront Partnership initially suggested that we add the event to the ‘Ocean City Festival‘ whilst this was an attractive proposition it would have meant having Pride in late September – we considered this to be too late to be included in the summer pride season.
We then identified another suitable date – Saturday 9th August – Volunteers were soon in full swing planning the event from early April 2014.
By mid May we were able to announce the date and location which was well received and caused a bit of a frenzy on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. We then met with the police to discuss the parade we considered two possible routes 1) from the Barbican and 2) from the City Centre. Both had their merits but the City Centre route was considered safer with the highest visible impact.
Plymouth’s First Pride Parade 2014
Another first for Pride in Plymouth – the cities first proper Pride Parade, we refer to it as the first as in 2009 there was a ‘flag procession’ from the Piazza to the Guildhall (effectively just crossing Royal Parade). Our route took us from the Jigsaw Garden, down Cornwall Street, past Place De Breast, The Sundial, across the Piazza, under the big screen (displaying the flag), and then up Armada Way to the Hoe.
When you do things for the first time you can never be sure how many is going to turn up, or how it will pan out. When the pride volunteers arrived at the Jigsaw Garden there didn’t appear to be many people. Though as the parade departed more joined in and we picked up more supporters on route. It was estimated that over 200 people was led into the event arena on the Hoe – a respectable figure for the first one.
We are very grateful to support we received from Devon and Cornwall Police, The Plymouth Police Diversity Team, and Gay Police Association for their support in making the parade happen.
The Pride Community Music Festival Plymouth Hoe
We were confident that the move to the Hoe would prove popular with the community and supporters – this was evident by the sharp increase in stalls at the event coupled with increased sponsorship and involvement from both the commercial and community sector.
As organisers of an outdoor event you become obsessed with weather forecast, on the Wednesday leading up to Pride Day the outlook was not good with the tail end of Hurricane Bertha set to hit the UK on the Saturday. By Friday the forecast was much more favourable with light showers predicted. They were wrong! On the day itself there was glorious sunshine with no more than a few spits of rain. There was an unpleasant downpour later in the evening whilst volunteers was clearing up but we worked through it leaving the site in darkness sometime after 10pm.
The parade was led into the event arena with Carl Rich on stage to welcome us, and there was a genuine sense of pride as people saw the stage (provided by Kaos Production) and the sound system provided by (Nub Sound) both local businesses which we were proud to have on board this year and we look forward to working with them next year.
At 1pm the event was officially opened by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Plymouth Councillor Pauline Murphy, there followed speeches from Oliver Colvile (CON) MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Councillor Alison Casey (IND) Plymouth Moor View, Councillor Mike Sparling (LAB) Plymouth, Stoke.
We then had an emotional minutes silence led by Sharon to remember ‘absent friends‘ who were with us in spirit. The stage was then handed over to our stage host Jazmin and Ricky Lee White who did an amazing job in filling the stage with a diverse mix of acts and musicians against a very tight time schedule.
It is true we forgot to provide any changing facilities, but a quick thinking Jazmin commandeered the police van that was onsite – would have loved to have a camera in that van at the time. Dragging up isn’t the easiest thing to do in a dressing room let alone in the back of a van. Well done Jaz for your quick thinking and thanks to Ricky for making the most of the improvisation.
The stage was big enough to accommodate a full steel band ‘Real Steel‘ that provided a very mixed set including an upbeat version of ‘In the Mood’. All the acts gave up their time for free on the day and were very pleased to be part of Plymouth Pride 2014 on the Hoe.
Social media went ballistic with photos and comments unfortunately due to a technical hitch we couldn’t respond and contribute on the day as we would have liked. Something we need to ensure doesn’t happen again next year.
Our volunteer team started planning Pride 2015 soon after the event – we are pleased to announce that on the back of the success of Pride 2014 the council now recognise that the event is important for the city and see the positive social and economic impact the event can deliver. We look forward to bringing in more ‘real support’ from the council with future events and seeing the Pride Festival firmly on the City’s event calendar.
We can also confirm that Plymouth Pride 2015 will be on Plymouth Hoe with a few tweaks to make the event even better and bigger!
We are very proud of the increasing number of volunteers that support Pride in Plymouth projects and events working through the year, and on the day to ensure the event is safe and accessible to widest possible audience.