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Love and joy for all: Southampton Pride 2018

2018 has not been an easy ride so far but there are days I’ll never forget, days that made it to the top of the list, memories I’ll treasure for ever.

I travelled on my own for the first time to the beautiful Bordeaux, I made it to the top of the highest mountain in the UK, I moved to a home on my own again, The Solent Graduation week 2018, cherished memories with friends and family here and at my little home island and now Southampton Pride.

I loved it so much last year, I couldn’t possibly imagine how it can get better, but oh my it did.

A year and two cruise ship visits later, I got to know the volunteers and the organisers, the most loveliest bunch of humans I’ve ever met, especially Danny who has a heart of gold and I had no doubt Southampton Pride 2018 would be an incredible day but I didn’t realise how bigger and better it would have been.

A dedicated family area, playground, bouncy castles and cute farm animals. pigs, chicken, goats, I don’t know how much time I spent staring at the chicks and the ducks. There’s something soothing, heart-warming to watch the little, new to this world, innocent creatures just… being.

Food and drink stalls, a large bar, the Main Stage, and inside the Guildhall there was a second stage and countless stands, selling merchandise, charity representatives, a glitter stand, the Great Wall with messages of love and many more I didn’t get the time to explore.

 

Whilst walking around with my friend Jamie who volunteered for the Pride last minute, taking snaps of our wonderful guests, I caught a glimpse of my adopted brother Andi on the Teacup rides with his goddaughter, so sweet it almost brought me to tears.

This year there was a doggie area, one of my favourite parts of the Pride, where you could get your dog trained, and there were feeding and water bowls. I lost count of how many cute dogs I got to pet. A paradise on earth.

pooch area

I spent half of my shift with Jamie, capturing all the joy and fun of the amazing, loving humans attending the event, giving out cards with details of the survey we set up to know what people thought of the event, that’s how we’ll learn and keep making it better year after year (if you were there and want to fill it in all details here) bumping into people I know, Solent colleagues, friends I haven’t seen in a while, the gorgeous Carlos and Jens and my brother Andi, who every time I see it’s a painful reminder of how much I miss seeing him every day.

 

At 2pm, it was time for the Parade. I missed it last year, so I didn’t know what to expect. What an amazing atmosphere! Men, women, transgender,  singles, couples, families, children, dogs, all together in bright, happy colours, walking in the centre of Southampton celebrating love.

 

When Jamie left, I teamed up with the lovely Rebekah and went around again to take more pictures, I’ve seen the man with the Blue Eyes and the beautiful smile I saw last year and asked for a picture again, that was a special moment, we loved watching Cheeky Girls and Union J and just before my shift ended we were asked to clean the toilets. Not the most fun thing to do, but someone has to do it, and we had a laugh doing it.

After my shift, I joined Darren, Donna, my UK mum and my brother Andi, my little Solent family for a well deserved drink. What a beautiful end to an already incredible day.

 

This is why I love volunteering. To be part of something so great, to make others smile. to be able to help in any way it’s a feeling nothing compares to.

Thank you to all the organisers, sponsors, Cunard in particular our main sponsor, it wouldn’t have been possible without them, and volunteers, paramedics, security guards, everyone who put together a spectacular, marvellous event for the city, especially Danny who asked me to do something I really enjoyed last year and because of him I had the opportunity to get on top of the Bargate the day before.

 

I hope more businesses support this great celebration to grow from year to year and remain free for all to enjoy.

If you want to be a part of something truly special, we are always looking for more volunteers. I can’t wait for next year!

PS. Thank you to whoever made the scrumptious chocolate cookies for the volunteers. They were so delicious I had five!

Eleni

 

 

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