Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cleethorpes Air Show organizers open up about cancellation of major spectator event

"We're deeply and bitterly disappointed that we cannot keep it going."

That was the reaction of two passionate organizers of the Cleethorpes Air Show which, as reported, will not be going ahead next year.

Mark Sweeney and Andy Almond-Bell, both 53, have helped to successfully stage the fun-filled family event for the past three years but have been forced to stop the regional spectacle for 2015 due to funding problems.

The huge two-day event drew in 200,000 visitors over the weekend in July this year, boosting the local economy by around £7.5 million.

But organizers say it is no longer viable to bring attractions like the Red Arrows as well as other entertainment as part of the show.

They say costs of around £70,000 are a minimum.

Mr Almond-Bell said: "It's not just about aircraft coming in and doing a display and clearing off – there is more to it.

"The infrastructure and logistics behind such an event are huge and our number one priority for such an event is health and safety.

"We were a team of dedicated volunteers who put hundreds of hours in each year to make the air show happen.

"We made sure we had all the necessary aviation insurance, ground to air communications, a PA system, and strict rules and regulations were in place with regards to safe distances and flight lines – it takes a year of planning.

"We are very grateful for the support we've had, it is going to leave a gap in their schedule as well."

Mr Sweeney conceived the idea for an air show in the North East Lincolnshire resort. The self-confessed "anorak" recalled seeing a show himself in Cleethorpes in 1975 and from that point he always wanted to bring such an event back to the east coast.

He said: "It was about 2005 and I was sat in my garden with a former air show director and I said there were no major events along the east coast and I wanted to create something sustainable for the people of this region with a feel-good factor.

"We are very proud of the event and how it has grown but we've often put our own personal money in to keep it afloat because we are passionate about this area and region. The people who live here deserve a major event.

"It's a free event that caters for everyone and the public have been great and we've received many supportive comments recently. Seeing them enjoy the events over the past few years have made everything so worthwhile, especially the look on children's faces when they see the aircraft, is special."

In comparison, other similar events elsewhere in the country may cost a family more than £60 in admission alone, and donations during the Cleethorpes show did not make enough to keep it going.

Organizers say they were still working to a deficit despite being grateful for all the contributions that were given.

Mr Almond-Bell added: "It is a real shame that we cannot keep it going to the same magnitude; if the council can sustain it then great, we wish them all the best. An established model is in place, we've managed to establish a certain standard and we hope it can continue."

As reported on Christmas Eve, Cleethorpes will still have an air show in 2015, after organizers of the annual Armed Forces event pledged that the second day of the weekend in June next year would include a military air display.

Story and Comments: http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk 

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