Mr Gay Europe contestants get magical tour of South Shields on visit ahead of finals
Continental flags have been flying over South Shields Town Hall ahead of the Mr Gay England and Mr Gay Europe finals being hosted in the region this weekend.
The contest celebrates the pride, diversity and rights of the European LGBT+ community, with countries represented including Belgium, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and Ukraine.
In the build up to the finals being staged at Alnwick Gardens this Saturday, August 20, the international delegates enjoyed a visit to South Shields – the hometown of competition CEO Stuart Hatton.
During their time in the town, they visited The Little Haven Hotel for refreshments and enjoyed stunning views of the seafront from the Ferris wheel at Ocean Beach Pleasure Park.
Custom House executive director Ray Spencer gave them his insight into the area on an open-top bus coastal tour, and they were treated to a special civic reception at South Shields Town Hall with the Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor Pat Hay and Jean Copp.
Entertainment was provided by singer Chris Perry and STAMP.
The Mayor said: “We were thrilled and honoured to welcome the contestants of Mr Gay Europe to South Shields Town Hall and to fly the flags of their nations to show our support for the LGBT+ community in the run up to the finals.
“It’s brilliant that the north east is hosting the contest, not only giving us a wonderful opportunity to showcase our great region – including our stunning coastal area – to an international audience, but make a powerful statement that promotes a culture of acceptance, encouragement and inclusivity.
“Events like these remind us that people should be free to love who they want and feel they can express themselves without fear of reprisal. It is set to be a real spectacle and celebration of pride. We wish all the contestants the best of luck in the finals.”
The Mr Gay England finals are returning to Alnwick Garden for the second year in a row alongside the MX Drag finals. However, it will be the first time Mr Gay Europe is crowned in the beautiful gardens.
Contestants will be showing off their best fashion, poise and grace on the catwalk, will undertake a written test and a series of other challenges as well as help to raise funds for South Tyneside-based charity, the Charlie and Carter Cookson Foundation.
Former Mr Gay World and CEO of Mr Gay England, Stuart Hatton Jr – from South Shields – said: “I’m so excited to be bringing Mr Gay England back to the North East region as well as staging Mr Gay Europe in the UK for the first time, at Alnwick Garden.
“I was especially delighted to welcome the contestants to my hometown where it all started for me. As a former winner and now MD of Mr Gay Europe when the proposal came to the table to bring the contest to find an LGBTIQ+ spokesperson for Europe to the UK my first thought was, ‘This is not going to London, I am bringing this home to the North East’. And I have!”