How amazing is this? Our very own Shá Gillespie has won the very prestigious Volunteer Ireland Award for all she has done in making Foyle Pride Festival all it is today. Derry / Londonderry has been celebrating Pride since 1993, and Shá came on board in 2010 to build on all the hard work that had gone before her, with a vision to take Pride in our city to a new level. This is what the Volunteer Ireland website
has to say about her:
Shá Gillespie is the founder of the Foyle Gay Pride Festival. She has single-handedly and against the odds – without funding or mainstream support, built a core volunteer team, put a programme in place, and for two years running – delivered a hugely successful and internationally acclaimed festival promoting the rights of LGBT people in Northern Ireland.
In its first year, the festival was celebrated by 7000 people and in its second year, even more people attended. This is a community, and family inclusive celebration of diversity and acceptance in a historically divided and troubled geographical region. For the first year (against great political barriers) Shá managed to get International spokesperson on LGBT rights Kasha Nabagesera (from Uganda) to launch the festival, and this year, Donal Óg Cusack launched the event with an inspiring speech.
All this success is largely down to the effort, commitment, professionalism and volunteering generosity of Shá herself who is passionate about driving change, promoting equality and creating social justice for LGBT groups. For over two years, she has committed herself on a full-time, unpaid basis to this project. The festival she has founded has very much captured the imagination of the national and international media and of the general public. It is now an up and running annual event.
This festival does not receive any government funding so Shá has managed to create this event single headedly. She works on this festival all year round on an entirely voluntary basis. In the months running up to the festival she works day and night.
Aisling Friel nominated Shá for a Voluneer Ireland Awards, she said “We need to celebrate the Shá Gillespies of this world, they are willing to take those steps that move us forward into a world of tolerance and understanding. Her tireless unpaid work and dedication to the LGBT community in Derry has not gone unnoticed. Because of this fabulous woman people all across Northern Ireland are starting to realise that it’s ok to be proud of who you are.”
So well done Shá! We’re very very proud of you. We’re also immensely grateful for all the work you and the rest of the previous Foyle Pride committees have done, with particular thanks to Claire Dooher and Chrissie Kavanagh, it couldn’t have happened without you.