Honiton Armed Forces Day organisers face criticism after event was cancelled

Honiton Twirlstars pictured with Steve Parsons and Peter Fleming show their support for Armed Forces Day in Honiton. Honiton Twirlstars pictured with Steve Parsons and Peter Fleming show their support for Armed Forces Day in Honiton.

Thursday, July 3, 2014
12:53 PM

Despite the cancellation of Honiton Armed Forces Day, the community still turned out to make sure the nationwide event was marked in the town.

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Honiton Twirlstars performed a special military inspired routine outside St Paul’s Church and a vigil was held at the town’s war memorial last Saturday.

The Honiton Armed Forces Day committee has faced criticism for cancelling the event.

The group says it was forced to call off the event after a booking error at the Mackarness Hall and the weather warnings that were in place last Saturday.

A statement from the Honiton Armed Forces Day committee said: “We did have to cancel this year’s Armed Forces Day event and we are absolutely gutted.

“Due to a booking error we lost the Mackarness Hall which we booked last July before any other applicants.”

Plans had been made to hold the event without the Mackarness Hall - outside on the church forecourt.

The statement added: “We kept a very close eye on the weather as we only had a couple of gazebos to shelter a few of the stalls we had attending.

“Unfortunately looking at the weather at the start of the week it wasn’t looking good and we thought about cancelling it then. We left it a few more days until Thursday and the weather forecast still had not changed and there was now a weather warning for the whole day all the way across East Devon.

“We tried to think of ways around it but to no avail. Thinking of the veterans and the children that would have been taking part the whole day we made the very difficult and upsetting decision to cancel the event.”

The statement said there was a ‘very bad response’ from the public to the cancellation and added: “All we can do is apologise. If we had had the Mackarness Hall like we should have done the event would have gone ahead.”

A statement from the Diocese of Exeter said: “We had a conversation with the organisers about the possibility of booking the Mackarness Hall over a year ago but, despite asking for a booking form to be completed for confirmation of the date and their requirements, this was not done.

“The Mackarness Hall is a popular venue used by many local organisations and we received another request for the date. As we hadn’t heard back, we had to release the date. Following receipt of a completed booking form, Armed Forces Day will be accommodated in 2015.”

The Armed Forces Day committee thanked Honiton Twirlstars for turning out to do its special military display even after the event was cancelled.

Preparations are already under way for next year’s event. Anyone interested in joining the committee email HonitonArmedForcesDay@outlook.com

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