A SOUTH Essex area's first ever Pride event will be held this summer and promises to make a powerful statement of acceptance and solidarity.

Organised by the Thurrock LGBTQ+ Community Network, the colourful community celebration has secured funding and support to debut on Saturday, June 8.

A walk, set to leave from Purfleet-on-Thames Train Station at 9.30am, will meander along the Thames past Thurrock's graffiti wall before proceeding up Grays High Street.

Festival goers will eventually congregate at the Thameside Theatre where Thurrock-born comedian and singer, Jordan Gray, will inaugurate the day's events.

From 1pm onwards, festival directors Arts Outburst will co-host a celebration at the theatre featuring live music, comedy, film, and drag storytelling.

Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, Arts Council England, Start Thurrock, and Riverside Community Grays Big Local, the event is also supported by rail company c2c.

Echo: The colourful community celebration has secured funding and support to debut on Saturday, June 8

The occasion will present a platform for community leaders, activists and allies to deliver messages about acceptance and equality.

Participants will be gifted vibrant, bespoke silk flags designed by Purfleet-based arts organisation, Kinetika, in collaboration with members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Thurrock’s Walking, Talking, and Making Festival - the T100 Festival - will lead the morning walk.

The Thurrock LGBTQ+ Community Network has conducted monthly peer support drop-ins over the past 18 months, and hosted social events at the theatre welcoming up to 80 attendees.

Jon Tilley, a founder member of the network, expressed his enthusiasm about the launch of Pride.

He said: "This event represents not just a celebration of diversity but a powerful statement of visibility, acceptance, and solidarity within our community.

"It's a beacon of hope, affirming that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, should be embraced and celebrated for who they are.

"This Pride isn't just an event, it's a testament to our ongoing journey towards equality, inclusion, and love".

He highlighted the gratitude for the support: "This event would not be possible without support from funders, partners and the community.

"It's been so humbling to know that people care."

For more information about the Thurrock LGBTQ+ Community Network and the Pride event, visit www.facebook.com/thurrocklgbtnetwork/.