Hastings Pride, the LGBT+  celebration parade that will march through town on Sunday 25th August (the Bank Holiday weekend), has been short-listed for an award of up to £50,000 from the National Lottery. So has the Eggtooth Project, a Hastings-based charity which offers art, music and other creative therapies to children and young people with problems of mental ill-health. But there’s a competitive twist. Final determination of what the Lottery calls its People’s Project Awards is dependent on a ballot of TV viewers voting over the current fortnight.  

PICTURE: The Eggtooth Project

Hundreds of projects that have previously received funding through the Lottery’s small grants programme were invited to say what they had achieved and how they would like to develop their project or work further. Hastings Pride and Eggtooth were both selected by ITV and the National Lottery among five finalists in the Meridian East region. But there will only be three awards, so two out of five will lose out, though they may still receive a “discretionary” grant of up to £5,000.

The three other competing finalists in the region are an All Singing All Dancing provider from Folkestone; the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, a Chatham-based group supporting families with learning disabilities; and the Posh Club, of Crawley, which offers social and entertainment sessions for older people suffering social isolation. Each of the five has been given a television slot during the current week to campaign for votes. 

There is no age threshold nor location restriction for voters, but only one vote per verifiable e-mail or text backed by a UK address.

Pride Campaign
Natasha Scott, arts and entertainment director of Hastings Pride, is undaunted by the competition. “We are so thrilled to have this incredibly exciting opportunity”, she says. 

Last year the festival site at the Oval (off Falaise Road) had to be abandoned in appalling weather conditions: high winds and horizontal rain.  Performers were relocated to bars in the Trinity triangle on America Ground. This year, Ms Scott says, if Hastings Pride is successful with the public vote, that will ensure it remains an outdoor festival. “It will mean that we can keep people safe from the elements by getting a big top marquee that can hold up to 3,000 people. To our knowledge Hastings Pride will then be the only open-air Pride that’s free to attend but safe from the weather.”

The event will, however, take place whether Lottery-funded or not, with a particular focus on commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969, when activists made headlines across the world defending the LGBT scene in Greenwich Village, New York City. Ms Scott explains: “That’s why we are doing this year’s theme as ‘Heroes’ – because they are our heroes for standing up for LGBT+ rights. So please vote for Hastings Pride in the Lottery and ITV People’s Projects and get all your friends, family and even your neighbours to vote for us. Help us become even bigger and better. Be our heroes of today and vote for Hastings Pride.”

Eggtooth Plea
Laura Clarke, director of the Eggtooth Project, which has been operating in Hastings over the past seven years, is equally excited. “With huge cuts to services, very long waiting lists and with more than one in five young people experiencing mental health issues, the service is needed now more than ever. Your vote will help them secure the funds to run the project for a year offering therapy and support to families when they are at their most vulnerable. Vote for the Egg!”

• To vote, go to www.thepeoples projects.org.uk/projects/region/meridian-east Voting commenced on Monday this week and closes at 12 noon on 15th April. The winners will be announced on Meridian TV after 6pm on Thursday 18th April.

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