An 89-year-old care home resident has spoken of his joy and amazement at being part of a community pride parade waved on by thousands of smiling well-wishers.
Patrick Haddingham, who lives at Colten Care’s Avon Cliff in Bournemouth, was in a party from the home who joined the Bourne Free event through the town centre.
It was Patrick’s wish to be involved, having been a spectator of the parade in the past.
Team members at Avon Cliff responded to his request by speaking to the Bourne Free organisers to secure a spot for him and three fellow residents just in front of a Colten Care minibus.
They dressed in rainbow accessories and face paint, with Patrick adding more style to the fun by donning a shiny black and gold blazer and blue mirror sunglasses.
Patrick said: “What an amazing experience I had. I never thought I would be able to be on the parade at my age and I never thought I would see so many people in one place ever again. Seeing people smile and wave made my day. It was better than I could have imagined.”
The Colten party were given spot number nine on the parade route which led from East Cliff at Boscombe through the town centre to Meyrick Park.
Companionship Team member Elise Woolnough said: “We danced in the street to classic anthems, waved at the public and had huge smiles on our faces the entire way. The streets were filled with love and it was an electric atmosphere.
“We had comments from the crowd about how fantastic it was to see Colten Care being part of the parade, representing the LGBT community and reminding us that older people are part of the community.
“Patrick, in his snazziest blazer, drew plenty of compliments from people as we went past.
“He has been a resident with us at Avon Cliff for many years and has attended Bourne Free as a spectator a few times.
“He told us he loved it so much he would not only want to go again, but actually have the chance to be a part of it.
“We contacted Bourne Free and were thrilled to get a spot on the parade. We took Patrick and three other residents who are all allies of the LGBT community and were keen to support Partick on the day.”
Patrick’s fellow residents also spoke of their delight in taking part.
Edie Crowley said: “I enjoyed every minute. I really felt so alive and I can’t wait to do it again.”
Dawn Street said: “I don’t think I could feel any happier than I did on the day. It was emotional to be a part of. It was a day I will remember.”
Dottie Dixon: said: “For me, it was the best thing that has happened in a long time and to be in a group of people that all got into the spirit was amazing.”
This year’s Bourne Free was led by actor Su Pollard, star of the TV sitcom Hi-de-Hi! and a well-known pantomime performer, who travelled the route in a Bentley Continental.