AN award-winning Hampshire marina has reopened following a £2m refit that was completed in time for its 50th anniversary.

A Covid-safe ceremony at Buckler's Hard Yacht Harbour was held aboard Gipsy Moth IV, the yacht on which Sir Francis Chichester famously sailed around the globe after setting out from the village in 1966.

A ceremony marking the completion of the marina's redevelopment was performed by Lord Montagu, whose family owns the Beaulieu River.

The peer and his sister, the Hon Mary Montagu-Scott, were joined by harbourmaster Wendy Stowe and former harbourmaster Bill Grindey, all of whom welcomed sailors back to the facility.

A Beaulieu Estate spokesperson said: "Half a century after it opened in 1971, Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour is now ready for the next chapter of its history.

"The expanded marina boasts 66 new berths, an increased provision of walk-ashore pontoons and improved facilities.

"Gipsy Moth IV looked right at home on one of the new pontoons as she proudly flew a special burgee to mark the golden anniversary.

"The yacht was moored on the Beaulieu River before its epic journey around the globe, when Bill Grindey was harbourmaster."

Lord Montagu added: "After two winters of upheaval, and over a year of coronavirus restrictions, it is a great relief to see the marina reconfiguration completed just as the country is coming out of the third lockdown.

"It was wonderful to have Gipsy Moth IV in the river to mark the completion of work."

Mary Montagu-Scott is commodore of the Beaulieu River Sailing Club.

She said: “There are many sailors like me who find it an absolute joy to sail on such an unspoilt river with its estuary creeks and wooded banks.

"We really are privileged to have such a wonderful team in place at Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour, focused on excellent customer service and helping everyone to enjoy their time here."

The work was carried out by Marina Projects and another Hampshire firm, Walcon Marine.

Harbourmaster Wendy Stowe said: “We’re so proud that Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour has reached such an important milestone in its history and that we’re welcoming back sailors after the completion of its redevelopment.

"As has always been the way on the Beaulieu River, the protection of the environment is still the most important consideration.

"It was important to us that the redevelopment re-used some of the existing equipment to help preserve the feel of the original yacht harbour.”