No charge from Red Arrows after Sidmouth show

The Red Arrows at Sidmouth. Ref shs 5782-35-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

The Red Arrows at Sidmouth. Ref shs 5782-35-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Poor visibility restricted the Red Arrows’ first display over Sidmouth in nine years, but their return looks secure – after the elite pilots offered to waive their fee.

The wet weather failed to dampen the spirits of the thousands gathered on The Esplanade, who dug deep to donate £6,000.

That sum was matched by Sid Valley businesses, and another £1,000 was donated to an online crowd-funding campaign – giving a grand total of £13,000 to help secure them as an annual feature once again.

Speaking at Monday’s tourism and economy committee meeting, town clerk Christopher Holland said: “They approached us about reducing their fee.

“I haven’t got a final figure, but they won’t be making any charge for the event they did this year.

“We may have to pay their insurance, but there won’t be any charge made by the RAF.

“We can be thankful for that – it has a massive impact on our ability to bring them back next year.”

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Low cloud meant the display was ‘touch and go’ until 10 minutes before the RAF display team was due to take off, on August 21.

Inclement conditions forced them to cancel six displays that week but Sidmouth was in luck – and the crowds were amazed at the achievement.

Chamber of Commerce chairman Mel Gater, who helped organise the 100 bucket collectors, said: “The amount of £20 and £10 notes we were passed was amazing – people were just saying they couldn’t believe it was happening.

“It was such a great event for Sidmouth. People were really grateful we made the effort.”

Town councillor Simon Pollentine, who chairs the tourism committee, said: “We really do thank them [the Red Arrows] for what must have been a terrible week for them because of them having to cancel displays up and down the coast.”

He added: “This was Councillor Ian Barlow’s baby. He has had a huge impact on how it worked and how extraordinarily well it went.”

Cllr Pollentine also thanked the business community and the many witnesses who dug deep on the day and the Sidmouth Regatta committee – saying he hopes next year’s display can be during the regatta week.

A Red Arrows spokesman said: “As a gesture of goodwill on this occasion at Sidmouth, no charge was made.

“However, we continue to reserve the right, as stated in our terms and conditions, to charge event organisers, in the event of a cancellation, anywhere up to full cost.”