BUSINESS owners and event organisers in the New Forest and Christchurch were left counting the cost after wild weather struck over the weekend with heavy winds and rain.
Local events called off included the annual fundraising Ellingham Show on Saturday at the Somerley Estate, near Ringwood – where the members’ tent was destroyed – and most of Mudeford RNLI’s fundraising activities yesterday (Sunday).
Transport was affected as trains through the New Forest were ordered to go at reduced speeds with delays of about 20 minutes, and there were several reports of trees blocking roads.
A father and son reportedly had a narrow escape on Saturday when a tree fell on their van as they travelled along the B3081 Verwood Road near Ringwood.
Ellingham Show chair Steve Thompson said: “A sad moment for all our fantastic volunteers – and of course also our members, our would-be competitors, our exhibitors, sponsors, key suppliers – not to mention visitors, many of whom have been coming for years.
“But, you know, perhaps the saddest part of this is that, this year, we won’t be able to make donations to charities. Last year we gave away over £30,000. But not in 2019.”
He added: “But we’ll be back in 2020 – the team is dedicated, passionate and determined to bounce back. We’re already looking forward to opening the gates on Saturday 8th August 2020.”
Scaffolding was blown down in Brookley Road, Brockenhurst, causing some minor damage to shops.
Yesterday was meant to have quieter weather but the Mudeford RNLI fun day was mostly called off in the morning as conditions were deemed too risky for some events, including the popular annual raft race.
A statement said: “This hasn’t been taken lightly and thank you to everyone who put in so much effort supporting RNLI Mudeford to make the event happen and all of you who were coming down to enjoy the day. We know, like us, you must be very disappointed.”
The day is an important fundraiser for the station, but it still managed to collect some money with the funfair going ahead and the base opened to the public for cakes and souvenirs.
Paulton Parks at Ower had to close 13 rides during one of its busiest times of the year due to high winds on Saturday – including its Windy Castle attraction.
Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, near Ringwood, shut down all day on Saturday after losing power and with several trees blown down. It reopened the next day.
The New Forest Fairy Festival, a weekend of family entertainment and activities at Burley Park, Burley, abandoned the event on Saturday on safety grounds but opened yesterday as the winds dropped.
However, it was criticised for the late notice of its announcement on Saturday, which was posted on Facebook at 12.55pm – three hours after the scheduled opening.
The weekend-long Lymington Seafood Festival pressed ahead on Saturday with a scaled-back operation that opened later than planned but was operating in full on Sunday.
Minstead’s village fete had been due on Saturday but amid the conditions was put back a day instead, with money going to the village’s church tower fund and community shop.
On the roads drivers had to navigate blockages including a tree reportedly down in Vaggs Lane, Hordle, and another in Matchams Lane, Christchurch.
Sport managed to avoid major disruptions although some games were delayed, including Lyndhurst and Ashurst CC’s match at Bolton’s Bench with Mottisfont CC on Saturday.
Another weather alert was issued today (Monday) with the east of the New Forest included in a Met Office thunderstorm warning for south-east England between 10am and 7pm.
It gave a “small chance” of some properties being flooded and possible damage from lightning and hail, with a risk of transport disruption and power cuts. Up to 40-60mm of rain would be possible in two to three hours in some areas.