Tavistock celebrated its first ever Pride event on Saturday, marking a monumental step forward in the town’s history.

Taking place in the Meadows and following a festival-style theme, hundreds of people attended the event to join in a mass celebration of all sexual orientations and gender identities designed to increase visibility and strengthen community. The day received a special endorsement from Plymouth-born Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley and featured musical performances, a picnic in the park, demonstrations from local groups and an extensive parade which followed a route along the River Tavy to Bedford Square.

The organisers received £10,000 in lottery funding, and a further £500 from Devon and Cornwall Police to help stage the event.

Mayor for Tavistock Paul Ward, when opening the event, said: ‘I’d just like to say thanks to the organisers for inviting me to open this fantastic event, I feel very privileged and honoured — thank you very much indeed. I’ve seen the management plan for this event and I’m amazingly impressed by how much work has gone into this. I want to give a heartfelt thanks to the organisers who have done so much hard work. I also want to thank all of the organisations, businesses and individuals who have supported Tavistock’s first pride.

‘This is a celebration of diversity; we are all different, we are all the same — we all have the same needs: food, shelter, love, respect, acceptance and a feeling of belonging in our community. There is more that joins us together, than will ever set us apart. It is my duty to welcome you to Tavistock Pride on behalf of all of the organisers, supporters and Tavistock Town Council. I hope everybody was a wonderful day.’

Organisers Heg Brignall and Julu Irvine said on the day: ‘It feels amazing to see it all in action now and just so emotional. We really hope this will be the first of many Pride events in the town. If we can get funding again and fundraise throughout the year we’d love to get two marquees next year to make the event even bigger and better.

‘We’ve been speaking with Devon County Councillor Debo Sellis who has been so supportive the whole way through the process and has helped to fly the flag up at the Conservative Club. The town hall has been figuring out policy and it’s great news to hear that the Pride flag will fly on Tuesday, June 28 which is international LGBT+ Pride Day. It’s a huge thing and a massive step forward for the town.

‘So many local pubs and bars have welcomed people in to carry on the party and are doing something in support. The Stannary Brewery has a band playing, HQ have DJs performing sets and the Duke of York is doing karaoke.’

PC Wayne Thielmann, neighbourhood beat manager for Tavistock police, said: ‘Tavistock Pride went really well on Saturday, not only as an event for the local community but as far as policing was concerned. There were no incidents to report during or after the event. The atmosphere was amazing and congratulations should be given to the event organisers who worked very hard to put on such an amazing event for the town.’

See this week’s Times for four pages of pictures