The Sandbach Pride event on Saturday did exactly what it set out to do – be inclusive for everybody, young, old, middle-aged, male, female, transgender, gay, bisexual, and anyone of colour (writes Stewart Green).
All were welcome to the first event of its kind in the town as it joined Congleton, Alsager, Crewe, Chester and other owns in Cheshire who have already staged Pride festivals.
Sandbach Town Hall was lit up in the colours of the rainbow, numerous shops in the town put on displays in support of the event and rainbow flags flew on St Mary’s Church and at the fire station.
Arrangements for setting up Pride in Sandbach began in early 2021 and a committee was formed a year ago.
Twelve months later, on Saturday, the festival started with a short service by Churches Together in the Market Square conducted by the Rev David Ottley and which included readings by Rev Jayne Manfredi, the recently appointed curate at St Mary’s and Mark Adderley.
They called for acceptance and justice for all who stand up for equality, and for those “who hide their real selves and suffer abuse”.
At 11am the event moved to Sandbach Park where the festival was officially opened by Sandbach mayor Coun Kathryn Flavell.
Organisers handed out awards for contributions to the LGBTQ community in Sandbach including making “honorary rainbow queens for the day”, a title given to the Sandbach High School students who have called for the banning of school uniforms in a sexual context.
Entertainment during the festival included drag queens Fonda D (Fonda D the dancing Barbie princess of Congleton) and Stella Black, also from Congleton. They joined the cast from Vale Royal Musical Theatre to perform Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz and the Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Festival-goers could also try their hand learning to spin plates courtesy of Peter Duncan, who runs Sandbach u3a circus skills group.
Other organisations at the festival were Friends of Sandbach Park, which was selling stones painted with ladybirds, Sandbach Guides, Sandbach Animal Rescue, and Mentell, a group that encourages men to talk about their problems. Also there were the Rotary club of Sandbach and Sandbach Art Room.
Sandbach Fire Station’s rainbow fire appliance was also at the festival as were representatives from North West Ambulance Service.
Sandbach PCSOs were on hand to offer crime prevention advice.
A short parade around the park was led by Sandbach United FC ladies’ football team as it snaked round the top end of the grassed area ending by the stage.
At the end of the day organisers brought out a multicoloured set of ribbons for everyone to grab onto as they read a poem and held a reflective vigil before playing the final song – True Colours by Cyndi Lauper.
There was something for everyone with a whole day’s worth of activities for all and the Pride was certainly put into Sandbach with this event.