HeliDays show is chopped due to soaring costs

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 June 2011

Archant

AN EVENT that brings thousands of visitors to Weston seafront every year has been axed.

Weston Super HeliDays celebrated its 20th anniversary last year amid rumours that it was struggling financially.

With spiralling costs and a lack of grants, organisers have now announced that for the first time in two decades the event will not be held in the town.

HeliDays’92, the charity behind the three-day air show, has increasingly been forced to foot costs for British and foreign crews to come to Weston, as well as fencing, air safety and other charges.

It also lost out on a Weston Town Council grant last year and says encountered apathy from businesses and other organisations when it comes to staging the event.

Last year’s air show attracted a record number of visitors, but Elfan Ap Rees, who has organised the event since it began and whose company AviaPress Associates is the main sponsor for HeliDays, says no other cash injections have been forthcoming in the past year and the risk has become too great for his company to carry.

The event, run by volunteers, helps raise money for a number of charities and Mr Ap Rees revealed last year that upfront costs for the event this year would be likely to hit the �£25,000 mark.

It is hoped the event may return to town again, but its future is uncertain at the moment.

The event, the biggest of its type in Europe, attracts air crews from across the world.

As well as static helicopter displays and aircraft demonstrations, the event also featured a number of stalls and attractions to appeal to a wider audience.

Mr Ap Rees, said: “It’s a real shame that this has happened as the event is good for the town and good for the local economy.

“But for the past couple of years we have only just managed to break even, when the aim is to raise money for charity.

“We think there are easier ways to do that in the present financial climate.

“Over the years we have looked at various ways of keeping costs down and increasing income but the formula that worked best always relied on keeping the entry prices affordable for families, which limits options, especially at the moment.

“We simply cannot afford to keep this event going for now.

“We hope that it may return in the future, but we will have to see how things go financially.”

The charity still hopes to hold a mini HeliDays in conjunction with the Helicopter Museum at Weston Airfield on July 23-24, but is awaiting confirmation from air crews and other organisations before confirming it will go ahead.

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