Pride June 2024

by Daniel Pitcher, on 20-06-2024
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Pride 2024

Back in March, I was asked by a friend if I’d be able to join the committee for Chipping Norton Pride, with the planned date of Saturday 1st June. Not entirely sure what I was letting myself in for or not knowing what was expected of me, I agreed and attended the first meeting.

Our first meeting was on a sunny Sunday morning in late March at the Fox Inn! A group of willing and enthusiastic residents from Chipping Norton gathered, all with one thing in common… identifying as LBGTQ+. We all introduced ourselves and what we might be able to bring to the committee. It was obvious that I was not a ‘creative’ but the ‘Health & Safety’ (groan) person!

In my day-to-day life, as most of you know I am the Managing Director (MD) of the Water Hygiene Centre, providing water safety risk management consultancy to our clients. This is where my degree in ‘Environmental Risk Management’ and the principles of health and safety risk management came to the fore.

My position as MD places duties on me, first the health, safety and welfare of my team. This is achieved through developing structured ‘Continuing Professional Development’ (CPD) road maps for all members of the team as well as robust procedures and methods, and risk assessments for the activities our consultants complete whilst working on-site for clients.

As a Chartered Member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) I have a moral and ethical duty to uphold Health & Safety principles in the workplace and my local community. As an MD I can take time to support and invest in the local community, as a result, I got the role of the ‘Health & Safety Lead’ for Chipping Norton Pride.

Our first few meetings were brainstorming sessions on what we wanted to deliver as part of the event, I sat and listened to ideas coming forward, the usual market stalls, food retailers, performers (singers’ dancers, public figures) on the stage of the Town Hall. Things took an interesting twist and ears pricked up when a ‘rodeo bull’ was floated as an idea and ‘I know someone who has one of these for a funfair’ was shared… Gulp. That idea didn’t come to fruition.

I was able to start hazard assessments once the plans and ideas of what was going to be achieved on the day were shaped up. This included having to research guidance on public events (the HSE have a great resource). A hazard assessment was drawn up looking at each of the planned activities, from:

  • Putting up flags and bunting through Chipping Norton town centre

  • Erecting lighting and sound systems in the Town Hall

  • Management of performers through the day

A curve-ball, which I’d not expect was internet Trolls and Stalkers. On the back of last year's Pride event several members of the committee were subjected to bullying and harassment online and in person. The same perpetrator had re-appeared this year and was starting to bully one of last year's committee members, despite the fact they were not part of this year’s committee!

On the back of the hazard assessments I was able to develop more detailed risk assessments, and collaboration with the Town Council and Fire Brigade was necessary to ensure the risk assessments were completed in full. Through the lead-up to the day and on the day, the risk assessments were reviewed and updated becoming dynamic risk assessments.

One of the more challenging elements of the risk assessment…the bunting! The local Fire Brigade had agreed to assist with the putting up the flags and bunting through the town. They’d completed their risk assessments which were reviewed. The plan on where the flags and bunting were to go up was agreed! On the day, the Fire Brigade worked with other committee members and everything was up and the town centre looked ‘amazing’. Apart from two small points, the bunting was strung over 2.5 metres high albeit the drop of the bunting meant it fell below the 2.5 meters – this all-needed trimming back, another risk assessment completed and a method established to do this. The bunting at one point had been looped around a lamppost. A check of the Highways Act, items cannot be attached to a lamp post! A few emails later to the Highways Department at Oxfordshire County Council and they confirmed the bunting couldn’t be looped.

That said, the 1st of June was quickly upon us and Chipping Norton Pride was in full swing! We had ‘00’s of visitors to the outside market area and food village, our performers on the stage were safe and provided amazing entertainment through the day and the evening, we had nearly 200 people attend our evening after party in the Town Hall.

Reflecting on the work, dedication, and commitment of the committee members and the support from Chipping Norton Town Council, the Fire Brigade, as well as the generosity of supporters to help make Chipping Norton Pride happen, which resulted in our Pride being a success, a safe and vibrant success!

Image Credit: Shot by Jude

About the author

Daniel Pitcher

With over 21 years of independent consulting experience, Daniel established the Water Hygiene Centre in February 2009 to be a ‘centre of excellence’ dedicated to independent water safety consultancy. His experience spans auditing, training, development of Water Safety Plans, incident investigations, competent help support and acting as Authorising Engineer [Water] [AEW] for NHS Trusts, Health Boards, Local Government, Universities and Housing Associations.

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