Tavistock Pride returned for 2023 today, adorning the Meadows, the town centre and the surrounding streets with a riot of rainbow colours.

Hundreds from Tavistock and other surrounding towns and villages turned out to the festival-themed event in the Meadows for the second year in the town's history.

The event kicked off with a Pride parade at 12pm, which left the Meadows and flocked along Plymouth Road, looping around Bedford Square onto West Street and then turning left onto Russell Street before returning to the Meadows, where town mayor Andy Hutton cut the ribbon to officially 'open' the event for one and all.

Performer Mandy-Anne Ket, host of the event, said: 'Tavistock isn’t necessarily a place everyone thinks of as really modern. Some people may think of the town as old-fashioned given the history. When you see something like Pride happening here, it’s such a positive culture shock to the older generation, with a new wave of acceptance with the LGBTQIA+ community. 

'It’s always nice to see the amount of people who join in, even those that were passing too. They see how populated an event it is and how it helps to educate people. It’s about bringing everyone together as a community too. Everyone turns out wearing their colours which is gorgeous to see, as it is equally seeing them just being themselves. What makes this event, and others in Tavistock, so great is that people show how accepting they are and that no one is here to judge one another.'

The event featured a Marquee Stage, Bandstand Stage and a new Acoustic Stage and tent for this year, sponsored by The Annex. The Marquee Stage hosted performances from artists such as Sidewinder, Jess Tuthill, Everly After, Uncle Carl and ELIO, with acts including Jorgie Dadds, Alice Northcott and Cyrus Larcombe-Moore performing on the acoustic stage. At the Bandstand, Hooperlative Swing showcased tricks and skills galore with hula hoops, Tavistock Taekwondo (now merged with Launceston Taekwondo) gave a fighting demonstration and were followed by Dartmoor Border Morris who entertained the crowd. After this performance, many in attendance enjoyed a dog show, where local canines received prizes in categories such as: Best Dressed, Most Like Owner, Best Haircut, Best Drag Queen and King and Best Sashay.

The event secured the green light again for 2023 with the help of two grants from the National Lottery and Devon and Cornwall Police, totalling over £10,000, and was organised by stalwarts Julu Irvine, Heg Brignall, Leanne Bray and Trudy Eperon, with many local businesses and organisations contributing and showing their support to ensure the day was a success.

Speeches were given in the late afternoon at the bandstand by Kath Beattie, the Intercom Trust and the event organisers — including Julu and Heg, who issued their warmest thanks to everyone who had once again helped to ensure the day went ahead successfully, including volunteers, also announcing the date for Tavistock Pride 2024: July 6.

The event hosted a wealth of traders and stall holders including: Exe Valley Pizza, The Annex, Eddystone Trust, West Devon Borough Council, Trudy Scrumptious, Between the Leaves, local police, Tavistock Youth Cafe, Venus Hair and Beauty, Tavistock Lions and the Bubbly Box Bar. 

As proceedings slowly began to wind down, many head on to continue the party at venues such as the Stannary Brewery, Jack Chams, HQ and the Cornish Arms, where afterparties are taking place this evening.

Leanne Bray, a key organiser working alongside Julu and Heg, said of her willingness to make the event happen: 'My children have grown up here; one of them is gay and many of their friends don’t identify as straight. Growing up, my eldest child never wanted to feel like Tavistock hated them or that they couldn’t be themselves.

'We just wanted to make sure that there’s an event where anyone can see that everyone is on side and that love is love. Once again there has been no trouble and everyone has been loving it and having a good time – that’s what it’s about. Pride is not just an event for people of a specific sexuality, it's an event for everyone celebrating that we can be ourselves.'