Tapestry’s Pride in Volunteering

Stewart Thomson, our Quality and Delivery Director, has been involved with Pride events for many years, going as far back as the early 2000s.  Whilst he says: “I’ve obviously attended many more than I’ve helped out with,” he is rectifying this thanks to Tapestry’s ongoing relationship with Pride in Surrey, which he helped forge.

He spent his Tapestry Volunteer Days in 2023, helping at Pride in Surrey’s annual festival, which was nearly abandoned when a catastrophic fire burned through the warehouse containing everything they owned, and razed it to the ground.

Stewart says: “The sheer amount of organisation and planning needed to make Pride in Surrey successful takes a serious amount of time and dedication – and that isn’t always possible to find when life and work get busy.  That’s why Tapestry’s volunteering days have been so helpful and rewarding.

Pride in Surrey is a relatively young Pride, founded in 2019 but growing rapidly with the mission to celebrate, educate and connect the LGBTQ+ community and allies across Surrey and the surrounding counties, rather than being focused solely on one town or city.  The approach is unusual for a Pride but means that individuals from a far wider area, and from the smallest of villages and towns, have the opportunity to celebrate themselves and with each other, to see they are not alone and to be ‘seen’ themselves.  Hailing from a small town in Scotland, I can relate to the importance of that.

Pride in Surrey 2023’, their main event, was held in Priory Park, Reigate in September.  I was already delighted that Tapestry were one of the sponsors of the event and actively embracing diversity and inclusion, but the volunteering days enabled me to go and directly help the incredible team of volunteers put on the event itself.

I arrived on the Friday whilst the Pride team had been there all week, so there were really only the finishing touches needed – but there was still no shortage of things to help with: putting up bunting, hoarding and posters; running to shops for extra supplies, filling goody bags for the VIP area. We were arranging tables, chairs, cushions,  blankets and decorations, and creating shade for the record-breaking temperatures expected that weekend.

Oh, and I moved huge wheelie bins, lugged boxes from A to B, and even sorted out lighting that just wouldn’t work – okay, so an electrician did the last one, but I did run around telling them what was lit and what wasn’t; I think that counts as helping.

There was a whole range of bits and bobs that needed doing, but all as part of a team of great people who were there with the shared goal of making it the best event possible – and it really was.  A great day was had by all on the Saturday, guests and volunteers alike, before the job of taking everything down began.  I can’t wait to do it all again for Pride in Surrey 2024 in Stoke Park, Guildford on Saturday 21st September.