Councillor set to run 100km to raise funds for Croydon Pride

Croydon Pride Trustee Mark Watson (Right) at 2017 Pride Fest Pic: Mark Watson

A local councillor is to run from London to Brighton in less than 15 hours to raise money for Croydon Pride.

Mark Watson, the Croydon cabinet member for economy and jobs, will make the 100km journey across the North and South Downs in his ‘Capital to Coast’ challenge on May 26 2018. He aims to raise £2,000 to help fund July’s Croydon PrideFest, London’s second largest pride event.

Watson told East London Lines: “I wanted to do the run from London to Brighton as it ties together the three biggest pride events – London, Croydon and Brighton. I’m also a part of Croydon’s ‘Coast to Capital’ local enterprise partnership. I thought the run would be a nice play on that.”

Watson was instrumental in resurrecting Croydon PrideFest in 2016 after a 20-year absence.He has campaigned for LGBT rights since 1988, having been a victim of discrimination himself. In 1994 his petition for his long-term Brazilian partner to remain in the UK was rejected on the grounds that they were in a same-sex relationship. Watson was subsequently charged with Gross Indecency for his sexuality.

Croydon Pride said: “Mark organised the putting on of Croydon PrideFest for the last two years. He set it up as a charity this year. Since then he’s been a Trustee and driving force behind its activities and engagement with the community, such as a ‘Gay PDA’ event in Croydon town centre, normalising same-sex displays of affection.”

As well as hosting LGBT events like their annual PrideFest, Croydon Pride aims to increase awareness of the difficulties faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Croydon residents.

Watson said: “I’m [fundraising] to help make Croydon Pride a sustainable charity in the long term. What we hope to one day do is hand it over to the community.”

Croydon Pride has focused on community since its creation. Its PrideFest differs from similar festivals by allowing residents to join in the Pride Parade, rather than requiring participants to apply in advance.

“We want the events to be accessible to the community, which is why we want PrideFest to be free. It complements London’s Pride events.”

Croydon Pride’s next event is a cabaret fundraiser for World’s AIDs Day on December 1. Money raised will also go towards PrideFest.

To donate to Watson’s ‘Capital to Coast’ challenge, visit Virgin Money Giving.

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