Aviva raise the rainbow for York Pride 2017

THOUSANDS of supporters are expected to make their way through the city tomorrow for York Pride 2017.

Sir Ian McKellen, famed for his roles as Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit, has joined others in giving his support to the annual celebration for York and North Yorkshire’s LGBT community.

In a video to the charity, he calls Pride “terribly important, not just to be yourself and enjoy yourself [on the day], but to do it in the company of others who are trying to do the same thing”.

York which attracted about 8,000 people last year will make history tomorrow as every single state secondary school will take part in York Pride’s parade from the Minster to Knavesmire from 11.45am.

This is thought to be the first time in the world that an LGBT Pride event has achieved the full inclusion of its local schools, with 13 schools in and around York taking part, under a ‘York area schools supporting York Pride’ banner.

Sir McKellen praised their participation as “enterprising”, while Greg Stephenson, chairman of York Pride, said it was “absolutely incredible”.

Mary Weastell, City of York Counci chief executive, said: “It speaks volumes about this city and its people that we will break new ground and make such a clear link between our schools and our Pride.”

Aviva, one of York’s largest employers and this year’s main sponsor, has shown its support by raising its rainbow over its riverside offices.

Lauren Peel, chair of Aviva Pride and digital propositions manager at Aviva, said: “It’s a great week for Aviva, as our LGBT+ network Aviva pride celebrates its tenth anniversary, and the 10th year of being the only insurer in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index Top 100. Aviva is committed to inclusive diversity, and we’re proud to have a workplace where people can do the best work of their life, and never have to hide who they are.”

Mr Stephenson said: “It has been incredible working with Aviva over the last few years, and this year having them as partner has been wonderful. For a charity completely run by volunteers, it’s amazing to have the support of one of the biggest companies in York behind us.”

The Pride parade culminates on Knavesmire for an afternoon of live music, food, drink, and activities. S-Club Party will headline the main stage and there will be a full fairground for all ages.