ORGANISERS of what would have been the New Forest’s first Pride event have taken the “heartbreaking” decision to cancel because of the coronavirus.
Due to be held in Lymington on Saturday 22nd August, the celebration of the local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community had been in the planning for months.
But in a statement the organisers said: “The decision that we have come to has not come to fruition lightly and we are deeply saddened but also we realise that we have to take people’s lives and health very seriously here at New Forest Pride.”
The committee, led by co-chairs Hannah Phillips and Matt Kitcher, held its first official planning meeting at Brockenhurst at the end of February. They have been busy planning the route for the Pride parade which they hoped would take place in Lymington.
The statement went on: “The New Forest Pride committee had been working very hard to ensure that our event would still continue for our scheduled date.
“But after heavy consideration felt it was unnecessary to put members of the public, local businesses, performers, volunteers and committee members at risk.
“With no clear sign of us returning to any form of normality any time soon, this is simply the best decision we can make to ensure that we are flowing government guidelines and adhering to social distancing rules.”
There are already plans being developed for New Forest Pride to be even “bigger and better” in 2021.
The committee added: “We can’t wait for the day we are told that we have beaten coronavirus and we can all get together and have a massive Pride event.”
Cllr Jack Davies, a Pennington town and district councillor, has been supporting the organisers. He said he had been “really looking forward” to the event, saying: “We had worked so hard over the last couple of years to make it happen.
“Somewhere like the New Forest is very traditional and, in some ways, still stuck in the 20th century and it was good to champion forward-thinking events like this which would make people feel they are part of the community.
“We had already had a lot of interest from businesses about sponsorship, so we are pretty confident that next year’s event will be a huge success.”