FINAL preparations are underway for Ilkley’s PRIDE on Saturday, July 2 at the King’s Hall and Winter Garden with the family event set to entertain and educate.

There will be live performances plus children’s crafts, face painting and karaoke.

Educational workshops and stalls will offer support and guidance from Mesmac, Mermaids Trans and a range of others too.

The event is funded by Ilkley Town Council with additional support from Ilkley’s Round Table and local businesses.

Although this is Ilkley’s first Pride, the event has a long history dating back to the 1969 Stonewall riots.

It gives people the opportunity to be proud of their identity, no matter who they love, and to remember how damaging homophobia was and still can be.

Conservative MP, Robbie Moore, said: “There is always more to do. Barriers need to be removed and Ilkley having its own PRIDE is clear messaging.”

America’s “Mother of PRIDE,” Brenda Howard, organised the first PRIDE march in 1970 and now financial advisor, David Shaw MBE, will take his place in the history books as the Chair of Ilkley’s inaugural Pride.

David has led Ilkley’s Pride and Diversity group since February after Ilkley’s Town Mayor, Mark Stidworthy, suggested David organise the up-coming event.

David said: “It’s really important to have Pride. It’s linked to mental health and well-being. It is about everybody not just those who are gay.

“Ilkley is a very intellectual and understanding place. My friends here love who I am and love me for being different.”

Britain’s Got talent semi-finalist, Mark Wood, will perform at 2pm and his post-show talk explains how he was forced to leave Ilkley more than 40 years ago because of homophobic slurs and attacks.

In the 80s, Mark left behind a letter for his family and sister, Karen Flesher, said: “It was a shock to find out my brother was gay but it has never changed how I feel about him.”

Mark blames Section 28 and negative government messaging for his own father’s contempt towards homosexuality.

After being estranged for decades, Mark’s father, Jim Wood, finally agreed to reconcile with his son.

Jim, of Wyvil Crescent, Ilkley was due to watch his son play a leading role in Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Assassins.

But Jim never turned up leaving Mark devastated. They spoke over the phone and Jim said: “You will always be my son but I just can’t deal with this and what you are.”

Shortly afterwards, Jim died of a heart attack and Mark joined his brothers and sister to scatter their father’s ashes close to Jim’s beloved Ilkley Moor.

Evening performances include drag act Miss Syren and local band, The Finishers.

Wharfedale Brewery are making Pride beer and with lots of support from the local community, the organisers are hoping to make the event a yearly fixture in the town’s already busy calendar.