Rain, thunder and lightning for festival

YET more rain, thunder and lightning marked the worst weather ever for the Lowestoft airshow yesterday - but the resilient public did not let the organisers down.

YET more rain, thunder and lightning marked the worst weather ever for the Lowestoft airshow yesterday - but the resilient public did not let the organisers down.

About 173,000 spectators made their way to the coast for the conclusion of the 14th Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival, with some of them still taking a dip in the sea and plenty more clutching a 99 ice cream.

Over the two days, about 333,000 people visited the show, down on the 425,000 total from last year, when the event was bathed in sunshine.

Paul Bayfield, air festival managing director, praised the “resilience” of the spectators and said it was the first time the show had taken place during two days of bad weather.

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“People were there with bottles of wine, sitting there and enjoying it - so it was raining, so what? In some ways it was useful to have the forecast so at least everybody brought their brollies. All credit to them.

“My sincere thanks from all the air show team for the support we have enjoyed.

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“It has been a humbling year.”

He hoped the commitment shown by those who braved the elements would be translated into a healthy donation total to be revealed next week.

But the bad weather meant counting the slippery coins and soggy notes was proving a “logistical nightmare” for the festival volunteers.

“A bucket arrived at the collection point that felt very heavy,” said Mr Bayfield. “It was a third full of water and had �1.89 at the bottom.”

There was a break in the clouds for the arrival of the Red Arrows to start the second day of the festival in style at 12.30pm.

Amid national debate on the future of the display team when MOD cuts are made, they once again thrilled the crowds with a precision display.

From then on, there were intermittent showers, but the umbrellas went down and the cameras came out for the world's only flying Avro Vulcan.

During the heavier showers, people huddled under umbrellas or made a dash for the tents and stalls.

Sandy Timpson, from Lound, said she has been to the air festival for the last few years.

“It's good apart from the weather,” she said. “The Blades are my favourite; they're just so good, and the Vulcan - that goes without saying.”

Darren Woodrow, from Long Stratton, said: “It's been pretty good and the Red Arrows are always a good show.”

His three young children had their hoods up in the rain, but he said the festival was brilliant.

His partner Anna Poulton said: “We did say we would come whatever the weather.”

Just after 1pm, a 13-year-old boy was taken to hospital suffering from a minor burn after being struck by lightning. Two others standing close to him were treated at the festival by the St John Ambulance Suffolk team.

A police spokesman said yesterday that there had been one arrest at the festival on Thursday and a 56-year-old man was subsequently charged with disorderly behaviour.

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