A COUNTRY show which draws thousands of people to the Somerley estate each year has been cancelled “with regret” over fears for public safety.

The popular Ellingham Show has been called off at the eleventh hour due to forecast winds of up to 45 miles per hour today, Saturday.

It would have been the 70th event. The show has been cancelled just twice before, although it is the first time that bad weather has been responsible.

Secretary Tom Harvey, who lives in Ringwood, said: “There have only been two previous cancellations, both of which took place for agricultural reasons – one was because of foot and mouth.

“It is the first time we have had to cancel because of bad weather. We are conscious, of course, of the risk to people and livestock.”

Mr Harvey consulted with forecasters from the Met Office before taking the decision not to host the event.

“The forecasters are 90 per cent confident in their prediction of wind speeds of up to 40 or 45 miles per hour,” he said.

“The show features great big marquees in the middle of the showground, which is based in water meadows near beautiful Somerley House.

“There is a severe threat to people, animals and property, as well as to the fantastic trees on the estate.”

The show was due to feature events including the ‘horse and pony high jump’, a birds of prey display, fancy dress and Shetland pony racing.

Last year’s event raised more than £30,000 for a range of local charities.

“My biggest regret is that our charities won’t benefit this year,” Mr Harvey said.

“The event supports everything from Scout groups to cancer charities. That’s really what this whole thing is about.

“But we’ve had such a positive response from people who have essentially said, ‘Bad luck, we’ll be back next year’.”

He said organisers “cannot put a price on safety”.

“We cancel with great regret. We have to put the safety of members of the public first,” he said.

“A great many people have worked towards this year’s event and we are very grateful for all their contributions.”