A Chat With Matt Walton, Chair of Pride in Hull

Pride in Hull isn’t just an incredible celebration that makes the city proud, it’s actually the largest LGBT+ event in all of Yorkshire. We caught up with Matt Walton, Chair of the Board, to find out how the festival has developed over the years.

“I started my involvement with Pride in Hull about eight years ago,” says Matt. “ Originally I offered to help with marketing and PR, as I believed that the organisation could benefit from my experience in those areas, but soon enough my contribution grew and last year I took on the position of Chair.”

Pride in Hull is a registered charity with a board of trustees, which allows the event to be run democratically and with equal amounts of decision making throughout its core team. Whilst working with the entire team and collaborating with supporters, Matt also takes responsibility over corporate partnerships and sponsorships, including the support received from James Legal, the University of Hull, BP, Humberside Police and Humberside Fire and Rescue Service.

“Hull UK City of Culture 2017 had such a huge impact on Pride in Hull. Before then we were attracting about 9,000 people, but in 2017 it jumped to 44,000. Whilst amazing, this came with a huge learning curve, as organising an event of that size is very different. We actually thought the numbers might dip after that but they grew to 50,000 in 2018. We’re the biggest free Pride in the country and the atmosphere is out of this world.”

This year’s event on Saturday 20th July was no exception, with thousands flocking to Queen’s Gardens to enjoy the live entertainment, drinks tents and happy vibes. However, though the day is designed to be fun for all, there’s also a deeper message at its heart, as Matt points out: “We felt that we’d lost some of the roots around protest and political motivations, so we addressed this by sharing a range of messages through the parade and celebrating the community’s heritage and evolution.”

This took the form of over a hundred placards with slogans taken from Pride parades over the last fifty years, highlighting issues that people were angry and passionate about at the time, such as Stonewall and Section 28, as well as issues affecting the modern world. In true Pride in Hull style, this was delivered in a way that packed a punch yet remained peaceful, family-friendly and super colourful.

Pride in Hull is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, and Matt says that the team behind it is constantly evolving the brand: “From an upgraded website and marketing materials, to a strong social media strategy and excellent photography, the event becomes more polished and professional with each year that passes.”

Alongside widespread PR coverage, with festivalgoers visiting our city from around the UK, the team also expanded the brand’s reach by running a pop-up shop in the Fruit Market: “Wykeland very kindly gave us this retail unit free of charge. It was a great resource and really gave us a presence prior to the big day. We sold out of stock very quickly and had to reorder, so it was a huge success.”

Our team at Drunk Animal were excited to work with Pride in Hull by creating large freestanding letters that spelled out “PRIDE”, which were painted in the rainbow colours and filled with balloons. This created an eye-catching piece of experiential marketing for the event, with plenty of people taking selfies in front of our technicoloured installation.

“Pride in Hull is free to attend but there’s a very big cost behind it,” adds Matt. “The support from our partners is hugely appreciated, plus public donations make a huge difference. If you’d like to support next year’s event, you can donate through the website or text HULL 3 to 70085 to donate £3, or change the 3 to another number up to £20. Every pound goes a long way and you’ll help us to make the 2020 festival bigger, brighter and bolder than ever!”

Were you at Pride in Hull? Did you take a selfie with our big letters? Tag us in your snaps on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.