Heavy rainfall puts an end to annual HMS Collingwood show

Sailors honing their skills at Wellington Barracks in preparation for their Royal guard duties

‘Royal duties ahoy!’

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A MAJOR naval show has been cancelled after heavy rainfall left its car park waterlogged.

HMS Collingwood’s annual open day, which attracts crowds of up to 6,000, has had the plug pulled as the result of health and safety fears over the nearby sports fields.

The naval training base, in Newgate Lane, Fareham, uses them as free parking for those attending the day.

But following the wettest April on record, the fields have been left waterlogged, and organisers have reluctantly decided to cancel the event, which had been due to take place on Saturday, May 26. The day is also a major fixture in the armed forces calendar as it includes the Royal Navy and Royal Marines field gun competition which will see 24 teams compete for the prestigious Brickwoods Trophy.

The field gun competition will still go ahead as planned on the day, but now only as an internal sporting competition.

Open day officer Lieutenant Commander Philippa Sargent said: ‘We at HMS Collingwood are all hugely disappointed that this decision has had to be made.

‘The area we normally use for our car parking is like a quagmire as are some of the areas on site used for attractions.

‘The health and safety of our visitors is of paramount importance and, regrettably, the weather has created too much of a hazard.’

Up to 3,000 vehicles park on the sports fields during the event.

Organisers had been looking at the possibility of laying on extra free buses between the base and Fareham Train Station and Gosport Ferry.

Lt-Cdr Sargent added: ‘A great deal of work has already taken place to make this the exceptional day for the local community that it normally is and we can only apologise to all our supporters and hope that they come and join us again next year.’

Attractions lined up included the Royal Navy Raiders parachute team, the Royal Marine Band, and a chance for the public to have a peek behind the scenes of life in the modern navy.

Anyone who has already bought tickets can get a refund by contacting HMS Collingwood on (01329) 332312.