ONE of Hampshire's biggest summer celebrations is due to return next year - and organisers are vowing to make it the best yet.

The New Forest and Hampshire County Show is staged by the New Forest Agricultural Show Society, which was forced to cancel the 2020 and 2021 events because of the pandemic.

Now the group has announced that the show is set to return to New Park, Brockenhurst, at the end of July 2022.

The three-day spectacular is expected to attract tens of thousands of spectators from across the south.

Speaking at the annual Beaulieu Estate Dinner the chairman of the society, Martin Stewart, highlighted the role played by the chief executive, Denis Dooley.

He said: "Just before the pandemic struck Denis asked the board to allow him to accept the offer to be chairman of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations.

"Thank goodness the board agreed. Denis has provided an in-depth insight into what is going on in the world of county and agricultural shows.

"Some are really innovating and thinking on their feet while others have made some strange, if not catastrophic decisions."

Mr Stewart praised the backing the Society had received from Forestry England, the National Park Authority, New Forest District Council and Hampshire County Council.

"What I can promise all these organisations is that their trust and support will come back to them through the show continuing to provide a vital function in the workings of the community," he said.

"We want next year's show to be as near to normal as possible but we have been examining everything."

Mr Stewart also read a statement from Mr Dooley, who said: "We have had twice as long to plan for 2022 and therefore twice as long to improve every part of the show.

"It's going to be a wonderful celebration of the New Forest, with a focus on interactive educational activities for the whole family.

"There will be extra safety measures and we have many challenges ahead in the planning, but the whole team is experienced and super enthusiastic. It will be the best yet and we are so excited."

The dinner was hosted by Lord Montagu, who was the Society's president in 2019.

Mr Stewart said: "Lord Montagu, thank you so much for being our president. I do hope that you and Lady Montagu enjoyed it, it’s a full-on three days I know.

"I could see, just how much your presence and the genuine interest you took in all the sections you visited meant to everyone.

"The time you took would have done wonders for the morale of the show, perhaps more than you realise, I thank you so much for agreeing to be such a massive part in the success of that year and turbo charging our desire to continue to nurture this great event.

"But we must not forget, your mother Belinda, Lady Montagu, was the Society's 58th president in 1995, and your grandmother, the 10th president in 1946. What a legacy to have."