A POPULAR Hampshire festival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Charity organisers have no option but to cancel the Jubilee Sailing Trust Autumn Pumpkin Festival and Scarecrow Avenue held annually at Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley.

The park is owned and managed by Hampshire County Council, who are not allowing any large events to take place in the grounds this year, which was due to take place on October 10.

The Pumpkin Festival usually attracts more than 5,000 visitors to the park, and this will be the first time in 21 years that organisers have had to cancel the event.

Volunteer Festival organiser John Davison said: "It is inevitable due to the size and nature of the festival that we had to cancel this year’s event due to take place on Saturday 10th October.

"Generations of families have grown up attending the festival which we are proud to put on every year with the help of community volunteers.

"In the current situation, added to the fact that we rely entirely on volunteers to run the festival, many of whom themselves are vulnerable, we have assessed that we could not ask them to be part of an event such as this where social distancing would be almost impossible to achieve.

“It is sad to think that this is the first time in over 21 years that the event which raises vital funds for the Southampton based charity will not go ahead but the Jubilee Sailing Trust, will do their best to make sure that 2021 welcomes back the Pumpkins, Scarecrows and People alike, with renewed purpose."

The Southampton-based charity gives people of mixed abilities and circumstances the freedom to explore their ability, potential and place in the world through inclusive adventures at sea.

The uncertainty brought about by the current Covid-19 pandemic means that Royal Victoria Country Park, although open to the general public, has informed the charity that as it stands, they will not be allowing large events to take place this year.

Patrick Fleming, CEO of the Jubilee Sailing Trust added: "The Trust has an amazing community of supporters and volunteers, and we're so disappointed that this event - which has raised thousands for the charity over the years - won't be going ahead in 2020. We have no doubt that the event will return in 2021, thanks to the ongoing commitment of our fabulous volunteers."