The award-winning chairperson of Derry’s Foyle Pride Festival Committee has announced she is bowing out to make way for younger people to take it into the future.
Shá Gillespie made the announcement yesterday, and her decision follows the staging of the city’s largest and most successful ever Foyle Pride Festival in the summer.
Explaining the decision, Ms Gillespie said: “After reflecting on yet another hugely successful pride in Derry, I have decided to step down as chair.
“I do believe it is time for new blood and young folk to step up and make their voices heard.
“I have had the most incredible journey, met some truly amazing people who helped in the struggle to change things here in the city and beyond.
“I had the pleasure of working with some fantastic individuals on several committees.
“I am very proud of what I have achieved here and me being a blow in from Donegal too!
“It has been an honour to be part of history with the first Gay Pride Parade in 2010.”
Ms Gillespie said the foundations were now in place for younger generations to build upon.
She added: “I met some amazing activists who came to Derry to speak at our festival, Kasha Jacqueline from Uganda, Dónal Óg Cusack, Mike Jackson , Bernadette McAliskey, Eamonn McCann to name but a few.
“We still have a bit to go in the fight for equality, but if we stand strong together we will triumphant.”
Back in 2012, Shá Gillespie collected a national Volunteer Ireland Award for her voluntary work in the Arts, Culture and Media sector.
Volunteer Ireland CEO Yvonne McKenna said at the time that with regards to Shá and the other winners: “We are celebrating and showcasing the leadership of people who have devoted large amounts of personal time and energy on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others.
“They have demonstrated a strong sense of social justice and worked hard to ensure that their communities receive real and lasting improvement.”
Thousands of people turned out for this year’s pride Festival and for the colourful 2015 Foyle Pride Festival Parade back in August.
Local lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities led the parade off from Waterside Train Station, with local people, bikers , political parties, trade unions, human rights activist and organisations as well as some religious people all taking part.
The Foyle Pride Committee will meet on Tuesday December 8 from 8pm to 9pm to elect a new committee for 2016.
Anyone interested in getting involved is urged to come along to the meeting.