A STAPLE event in the Alresford town calendar has been cancelled for the first time in 30 years.

Since 1990, local Rotary members have organised the torchlight procession, bonfire and fireworks in early November.

It has been recognised as one of the best displays in Hampshire and often attracts thousands of people.

But this year it will not be going ahead due to the coronavirus crisis.

Hans Wustefeld of the Alresford Rotary branch said: "This year is a year like no other because of COVID-19. Mass participation events may be possible over the coming months, but there are so much uncertainty over-rules and restrictions that planning is almost impossible for a small charitable organisation.

"So, after all these years, the decision has been taken not to hold the torchlight procession, bonfire and fireworks.

"It wasn’t a choice we made lightly, but we had to decide well ahead of committing to buy over £7,000 of fireworks that no one could come and see on the night. We will, of course, be back next year with a plan to make as big a bang as always."

The club has been busy in lockdown and continues to meet virtually. Their charitable donations have continued. over the past 12 months.

Mr Wustefeld continued: "We have given over £16,000 to local and international charities. Like many volunteer organisations, Rotary has suffered a decline in membership in recent years.

"The pace of life and a change in the way people want to volunteer and support their local communities and good causes around the world has changed.

"We’ve taken the time in lockdown to consider how we are going to change and have plans for a more straightforward, more inclusive form of organisation that we hope will appeal to those who want to help others."