THE New Forest and Hampshire County Show has refunded all its suppliers and customers after it was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-day show is staged by the New Forest Agricultural Show Society, which was formed 100 years ago to help unite the community after the First World War.

It normally attracts more than 90,000 visitors from across the south.

But this year's event was axed after the Covid-19 crisis resulted in a national lockdown and strict social distancing regulations, such of which are still in force.

The society immediately furloughed its staff to keep costs down and successfully applied for a £400,000 Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme Loan from Lloyds Bank to provide it with the capital to pay its traders and give customers a full ticket refund.

It has now refunded more than 150 traders and the 140 people who had already purchased their ticket.

Denis Dooley, chief executive of the New Forest Agricultural Show Society, said: “We had exciting plans to celebrate the show’s centenary year, however this had to take a backseat due to coronavirus.

"The right thing to do by our suppliers and ticketholders was to ensure they received full compensation during this difficult time, which is why the support from Lloyds Bank was so vital, giving us the cashflow to make this possible.

“We’re now planning to come back even bigger and better once it’s safe to do so next year."

Ben Mackett, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, added: “The New Forest and Hampshire County Show is a known and loved fixture in the local community calendar, with people coming from far and wide to experience all the brilliant produce and beauty our region has to offer.

“Unfortunately the pandemic has put a stop to the event for this year.

"But the support we have provided has enabled the organisation to move its plans while ensuring nobody is out of pocket, which is a testament to its commitment to the community.”