Karen Sparkles with Pride

Publish Date: 24/06/2013

Sparkling With Pride

Karen Richards is a woman who loves a challenge. At the age of 16 years old Karen began working as a carpenter before moving on to become a Site Manager and running three business of her own. 

Today she works in the construction industry as a health and safety advisor and as a consultant on equality and diversity issues. Outside work, Karen volunteers for Manchester Pride, and is well known for her work with Manchester Concord and the national transgender celebration, Sparkle as well as being involved in Manchester’s LGBT Rugby League Club, Manchester Canalsiders.

Earlier this year Karen joined Manchester Pride as a director of its trading subsidiary, Manchester Pride Events Ltd. Karen helps Pride around health and safety issues, attends board meetings and likes to raise her opinions! She’s proud to be the first trans person to advise the Board of Manchester Pride and volunteered in 2012 to be night  Site Manager for the whole festival to make sure that everything was safe and secure, “They gave me a AAA security pass,” she says, “but I was so busy the only people I got to see where the bin men who helped clear the site every morning!”

Last year Karen was nominated along with Stuart Donnelly for Community Champion of the Year at The LGF’s Annual Homo Heroes Awards for their joint work on the annual transgender event Sparkle. “I was a bit surprised by that nomination because I generally like to stay in the background but I am incredibly proud of Sparkle which has become Europe’s premier trans event as it’s all about trans people interacting with other communities, not just our own.”

Karen is also involved in the world’s first LGBT Amateur Rugby League Club Manchester Canalsiders. She explains the difference between rugby league as being “a game for gentlemen played by hooligans, as opposed to rugby union, which is the opposite”. Canalsiders has only been running a few months but already is fully inclusive of LGBT and straight people, attracting involvement in either the men’s or women’s full contact teams or mixed touch rugby for those who wish a more gentle initiation into the sport. 

“Team spirit is really important at Canalsiders and everyone has bonded so quickly considering we’ve only been playing for a few months. We were all out over The Great British Bear Bash on Canal Street and we realised that our teams really do reflect every aspect of the LGBT community”.

Inclusion and diversity is hugely important to Karen “It’s so important that the whole community works together. We shouldn’t lose our sense of identity or purpose and we should all support one another whoever we are and whoever we represent”. 2013 looks like being just as busy for Karen as she is  working with community groups  and partnership  sponsors.

For Sparkle Karen is in charge of fundraising and liaising with local business and has had support from almost every venue in Manchester’s LGBT Village to prepare for the expected 4-5,000 visitors to the event between Thursday 11th - Sunday 14th July.

Karen really wanted to share some BIG announcements  with us but had to keep them under wraps until they are signed off so make sure you look out for some major news about Manchester Pride, Sparkle and Manchester Canalsiders coming together really soon.