KEIGHLEY exploded in a rainbow of colour as hundreds of people made tracks to the town’s first Pride event.

The festivities began with a special Rainbow Train travelling from Keighley to Ingrow stations where there was a play devoted to LGBTQ icon Anne “Gentleman Jack” Lister.

Then in the afternoon and evening more than 550 people attended the main event at Central Hall with a host of activities and non-stop entertainment.

Ruth Nielsen, one of the volunteer organisers, said Keighley had a great first Pride after six months of intense planning.

She said: “The hall was filled with an array of craft and information stalls buzzing with rainbow colours. The safe space allowed people to be themselves in a non-judgemental environment.

“It was an amazing day to see people of Keighley coming together to show their support.

“This is only the beginning and we want to continue our visibility and road to acceptance within the community to create a safer space for our next generations to thrive!”

Ruth, a member of the Keighley Pride Steering Group, praised local businesses who supported Pride by donating raffle prizes and hanging bunting.

She said: “We were especially impressed by the Pride-themed window displays. This created a feeling of total acceptance, which is something we would like to expand on next year.”

The Keighley Pride event at Ingrow station was held in conjunction with the launch of Keighley’s National Heritage Days events and also celebrated novelists Elizabeth Gaskell and the Brontë sisters.

After the Rainbow train arrived at Ingrow station there were musical and drama performances, including Erica Adkins’ portrayal of Anne Lister, the Halifax lesbian, and mill owner who was recently the subject of BBC drama Gentleman Jack.

At Central Hall the afternoon entertainment was hosted by local drag queen Marigold Addams with acts raising the tempo on the way to live band Playing for Kicks’ finale.

Organisers wanted to thank all those who helped plan the event, and all those who went along to support it, along with supporters Keighley and Bradford councils, the VCS Alliance and Central Hall.

Ruth added: “We’ve all enjoyed organising it, including the younger members of the planning team, and great efforts were put in by Bradford Youth Service and Keighley College to volunteer. “

Keighley MP John Grogan attended the event at the Ingrow station and Cllr Doreen Lee, the Lord Mayor of Bradford, and Keighley town mayor Cllr Peter Corkindale mingled with the crowds at Central Hall.

Keighley Pride Steering Group is made up of people from the Keighley area who worked together with representatives of existing LGBTQ organisations.

Their purpose is to celebrate the diversity of all LGBTQ people and encourage a culture of acceptance and inclusion.