Famous faces join opening of ‘Rainbow Junction’ on Chiswick High Rd

Image above: Chiswick celebrities pose at the rainbow crossing

Clare Balding, Harry Judd and Nicki Chapman join launch

Celebrity guests, smiling faces and laughter welcomed Chiswick’s new rainbow crossings, dubbed ‘Rainbow Junction’, on Friday (3 February).

Famous faces at the 10.00am opening event included broadcasters (and spouses) Clare Balding and Alice Arnold, McFly drummer Harry Judd and TV & radio presenter Nicki Chapman.

The group posed crossing the newly painted rainbow crossings at the junction of Chiswick High Rd, Turnham Green Terrace and Annandale Rd with the Leader of Hounslow council, Shantanu Rajawat, Aubrey Crawley, founder of West London Queer Project, Ollie Saunders, one of the directors of the Chiswick Flower Market, and members of the Actonians Womens’ football team, while a coterie of amateur and professional photographers sought to get better pictures.

With colours representing the Progressive Pride flag, the crossings celebrate LGBTQ+ people and Black Lives Matter. Work to bring the initiative to fruition has been going on in the background for around two years.

The initial idea of having a rainbow crossing in place of one of the existing zebra crossings in Chiswick was ditched because colours on the road make it difficult for visually impaired people and guide dogs to recognise as a crossing. It was decided instead to put the rainbow crossings at a junction which already had tactile signs and audible signals for blind and visually impaired people, to overcome that problem.

One of Chiswick’s blind residents, Eran, who uses a guide dog, told us:

“As long as the tactiles and the crossing buttons stay the same I am really not bothered what colour it is.”

READ ALSO: Chiswick reacts to the new rainbow crossings with bemused tolerance

The crossings have been organised by the West London Queer Project and Chiswick Flower Market director Ollie Saunders, with the support of Chiswick Councillor Ranjit Gill, one of the Conservative group of councillors on Hounslow Council, who is himself gay.

Hounslow Council paid for the project, which cost  “in the region of £35K”, describing it as a “vivid demonstration of our commitment to LGBT+ rights”. Perhaps nervous of the reaction at a time when Council Tax is expected to be raised in the budget meeting at the end of the month, they told us:

“Whilst we acknowledge the financial pressure on our budget, equally as a Council, it is important that we raise awareness of equality issues and given the rapid growth of WLQP we know our LGBT+ community value the fact that they are beginning to feel more recognised and supported.”

The Council has also supported West London Queer Project’s work on wellbeing and social connection through Thriving Communities funding.

Images above: Clare Balding poses with Actonians Womens’ team, Clare Balding, Alice Arnold, Aubrey Crawley and Harry Judd pose in front of one of the crossings (left to right)

Celebrating diversity

Sports broadcaster and Chiswick resident Clare Balding told The Chiswick Calendar:

“It’s brilliant. I think it looks great and it’s going to become a real point of interest, I think lots of people are going to want photos. It just celebrates complete diversity and I love it.”

Shadia Edwards-Dashti, who plays for Actonians Womens’ team, said:

“Today is all about the community. We want to kick out homophobia out of football. Actonians is a very inclusive club and that’s at the heart of our team.”

Chiswick resident and BBC Radio 2 host and TV presenter Nicki Chapman told us:

“What they’ve done is amazing, it’s inclusive and I defy anyone to walk down the High Rd without it putting a smile on their face.”

Leader of Hounslow Council Shantanu Rajawat said:

“This is a fantastic initiative. WLQP make an amazing contribution to our community and it’s fitting start to LGBT history month.”

He added:

“Hounslow is a borough where everyone is welcome regardless of sexual orientation or identity.  WLQP have grown from a small group of friends to a borough wide organisation of more than 5,000 members in under a year; a clear indication of the need for our LGBT+ community to have a voice, recognition, and support.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Teachers strike closes or partially shuts swathe of schools in Chiswick and west London

See also: Ealing Lib Dems criticise Council over green space proposals

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