Worthing Pride organisers praise sell-out event: "It was like nothing I have ever experienced before"

Town crier Bob Smytherman with the Worthing Pride parade
Town crier Bob Smytherman with the Worthing Pride parade

Thousands of people have packed Worthing seafront for the town’s second pride event, which was a sell-out according to organisers.

The parade along the promenade began near The Burlington Hotel at midday, with dancers and representatives from various businesses, groups and charities dressed in eye catching colours and entertaining revellers.

Jonny Topping, Marko Paelmae, Jackie Morgan and Martina Vankova at Worthing Pride

Jonny Topping, Marko Paelmae, Jackie Morgan and Martina Vankova at Worthing Pride

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The procession then wound its way to Beach House Grounds next to the Splashpoint Centre for the main event, which was headlined by Queen tribute act Magic Queen.

According to Worthing Pride co-organiser James Spencer, the main event was sold out by 3pm and 4,000 tickets were sold: 2,800 online and the remaining 1,200 on the day.

Dan and Gary Foster-Syddall with Sue Coleman at Worthing Pride

Dan and Gary Foster-Syddall with Sue Coleman at Worthing Pride

He said the event ran very smoothly, with only one person having to be ejected, and that the queues for the bars were much shorter than last year's event.

The organiser was also part of the procession. He said: "As we got towards the town centre, just to see the sheer volume of people lining the streets cheering us on and supporting us meant the world to me."

Town crier Bob Smytherman and the mayor of Worthing Hazel Thorpe were among well-known faces in the parade.

James described the mayor as 'an advocate for the LGBT+ community', adding: "She did a lovely speech saying how wonderful it was to be a part of the day, and how she hoped it goes from strength to strength."

As the glitter settled on this year's event, the Worthing resident said the committee would be meeting in due course to discuss next year's event.

He said: "The formula we have of a lovely, relaxed, happy, safe place - a 'big gay tea party' as it has been described by some people - will carry over to next year, and we will refine it.

James added that they may consider moving to a bigger site than Beach House Grounds next year, after having to turn people away on the day once it had sold out.

A particular highlight for many was Worthing drag queen Linda Bacardi, who acted as a British Sign Language interpreter for the other acts.

It was Keira Thomas' first time on the Worthing Pride organisers' team, but it will not be her last.

She said: "It was something else; it was like nothing I have ever experienced before and it is something that will stay with me forever."

Keira said a 'huge thank you to everyone involved' including the volunteers: "It just wouldn't be possible without them."

The feedback she received on the day was positive, she said, and it seemed the event had attracted people from all over the country, including a woman who had just finished her chemotherapy.

James said: "It is great for our town that Pride has brought people here for the first time, so they can see what great bars and coffee shops we have and what a lovely place it is to be."