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Organiser of first Stort Valley Pride event in Stortford pledges more services and support for LGBTQ+ community




The organiser of the first Stort Valley Pride festival made a pledge to the LGBTQ+ community on Saturday – they will have more local services and support.

Bishop's Wellbeing youth and community lead Annabelle Caley launched an awareness event at South Mill Arts with an emotional speech. The 10am-4pm event followed an entertaining evening on Friday featuring drag act Crayola, followed by karaoke.

"Why are we here today?" Annabelle asked those gathered at the arts centre in South Road. "We're here because Bishop's Stortford does not have representation for the LGBT community. We're here because we're queer and we deserve to be represented in our community."

Bishops Wellbeing colleagues Zara Skidmore, who founded the support organisation, and Annabelle Caley, its community and youth lead who organised Stort Valley Pride
Bishops Wellbeing colleagues Zara Skidmore, who founded the support organisation, and Annabelle Caley, its community and youth lead who organised Stort Valley Pride

Annabelle, who told the Indie she was still working out her sexuality, added that Bishop's Wellbeing would work to bring more local services to the LGBTQ+ community.

She was followed by Bishop's Wellbeing founder Zara Skidmore, who also gave an emotionally charged speech about her journey towards recognition of the issues the LGBTQ+ community faces.

"I'm a 44-year-old heterosexual woman and I couldn't imagine what it's like to be in the LGBT community," said Zara.

From left, Lilly Marshall with her friend's son Mateo, 3, with Stacie Allan and Jodie Wilson at the Bishops Wellbeing stand
From left, Lilly Marshall with her friend's son Mateo, 3, with Stacie Allan and Jodie Wilson at the Bishops Wellbeing stand

She said she had been in denial that it was possible to have homophobic views and after becoming angry she had accepted that she was being passive and was part of the problem.

"I needed to become an ally," said Zara, who added that the challenge was to make hateful behaviour unacceptable. "Join me and pledge to become an ally in our community," she said.

The event featured stalls from groups providing advice and support, including the Terrence Higgins Trust, Red Kite, Hertfordshire police, a social prescriber from the Stort Valley and Villages Primary Care Network and Bishop's Wellbeing.

Visitors had the chance to try out the transgender clothes swap shop and there was a closet people could go inside and then "come out".

PCSOs Clare Andrews, left, and Edy Szrajber from Herts police's Bishop's Stortford Safer Neighbourhood Team
PCSOs Clare Andrews, left, and Edy Szrajber from Herts police's Bishop's Stortford Safer Neighbourhood Team

Clive Duffey, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, spoke to the Indie about the Ask For Clive scheme, which took his name and which aims to promote inclusion and anti-discrimination in bars and restaurants. He said 3,000 venues, including 120 pubs, had taken part in the scheme nationwide.

Cllr Chris Wilson, a Stortford member of East Herts Council, said he was keen to get the scheme off the ground in the town as he felt it was a "badge of honour" for venues to say they were friendly to the LGBTQ+ community.

Besides the groups offering information and advice, Bishop's Stortford Musical Theatre Company members provided musical interludes and there were stalls offering rainbow "tattoos" and ceramic gifts.

Stort Valley Pride at South Mill Arts, Bishop's Stortford (50711552)
Stort Valley Pride at South Mill Arts, Bishop's Stortford (50711552)
Representatives of newly-formed Bishop's Stortford-based charity Red Kite, which supports victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse
Representatives of newly-formed Bishop's Stortford-based charity Red Kite, which supports victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse
Stort Valley Pride at South Mill Arts, Bishops Stortford
Stort Valley Pride at South Mill Arts, Bishops Stortford
Clive Duffey, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, who gave his name to the Ask For Clive initiative
Clive Duffey, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, who gave his name to the Ask For Clive initiative
Bishop's Stortford Musical Theatre Company member Becky Faulkner performing
Bishop's Stortford Musical Theatre Company member Becky Faulkner performing
Start of Pride weekend in Bishop's Stortford – drag queen Crayola with, from left, Stort Valley Pride organiser Annabelle Caley (Bishop's Wellbeing), Chris Lydamore (Bishop's Stortford Museum curator), Sawbridgeworth mayor Cllr Greg Rattey, Stortford mayor Cllr Keith Warnell, Zara Skidmore (Bishop's Wellbeing founder and operations manager) and Clive Duffey (Terrence Higgins Trust). Picture: Vikki Lince (50663778)
Start of Pride weekend in Bishop's Stortford – drag queen Crayola with, from left, Stort Valley Pride organiser Annabelle Caley (Bishop's Wellbeing), Chris Lydamore (Bishop's Stortford Museum curator), Sawbridgeworth mayor Cllr Greg Rattey, Stortford mayor Cllr Keith Warnell, Zara Skidmore (Bishop's Wellbeing founder and operations manager) and Clive Duffey (Terrence Higgins Trust). Picture: Vikki Lince (50663778)
Crayola with Sawbridgeworth and Bishop's Stortford mayors Cllrs Greg Rattey, left, and Keith Warnell. Picture: Vikki Lince (50663776)
Crayola with Sawbridgeworth and Bishop's Stortford mayors Cllrs Greg Rattey, left, and Keith Warnell. Picture: Vikki Lince (50663776)
Drag queen Crayola performed at South Mill Arts on the eve of Saturday's inaugural Stort Valley Pride event. Picture: Vikki Lince (50663780)
Drag queen Crayola performed at South Mill Arts on the eve of Saturday's inaugural Stort Valley Pride event. Picture: Vikki Lince (50663780)


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