Photo gallery: Horning’s first ever boat show is a runaway success

The Horning Boat Show. Taster sailing sessions on the River Bure. Picture: James Bass

With the unspoilt beauty of the Broads as their canvas, villagers hoped their inaugural boat show would prove popular.

The Horning Boat Show. Lyndon and Dee Whyatt with their son Jack. Picture: James Bass

But the runaway success of Horning Boat Show took even the most optimistic of organisers by surprise, with an estimated 5,000 people flocking to the waterside celebration on Saturday.

The Horning Boat Show. Picture: James Bass

Smiling children enjoyed a taste of sailing in majestic yachts on the River Bure – while dozens of exhibitors provided a rich diversity and boat firms made several sales.

Colin Boakes, chairman of the organising committee, said: 'It's far exceeded my expectations. We knew it would probably be popular, but not this popular.'

Mr Boakes said the magical waterland of the Broads offered something unique.

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And with the first-ever show barely finished, he was already being asked if there would be a repeat.

'A lot of people have said there's a nice feel to it, as it's not in some impersonal exhibition hall; it's in the village,' he said.

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'These smaller, local shows can be better than the huge exhibitions as taking boats like that to London and Southampton can be expensive.

'We planned to do it every two years but even the exhibitors are saying 'what about next year', so we don't know. We need to reflect and evaluate. One thing is, when we do it again, it won't be one day – it will be an entire weekend.'

Lyndon and Dee Whyatt, of Potter Heigham, were at the show with their son Jack, four. Mr Whyatt said: 'We live in the Broads so we might as well make the most of it. Unless you have an open day people don't really come down to the sailing clubs to see what it's like.'

He said Jack loved his experience of sailing and the family was now looking at joining a local club.

The show boasted more than just boats, with offerings from BeWILDerwood, a display of historic Horning in the village hall and more than 60 exhibitors spread across the recreation ground, village green and Swan Green, including Gorleston Model Boat Club.

Delyth Crook, of Wroxham, was at the waterside with her children Sam Nunhuck Crook, nine, and Bethan, seven, and their friend Molly Barnham, seven, of Hoveton.

She said: 'They've all grown up with sailing. I've been to the boat show in London, but I think this is much more fun for children. Everyone had a chance to sail.'

James Fraser, managing director of principal sponsor Norfolk Yacht Agency, said: 'When we were approached about sponsorship we were delighted about it. It's a nice, relaxed, easy atmosphere and people seem to be in good spirits. It's so good for the local boating community.'

He added it was less expensive than taking boats to national shows, and said more people had viewed their boats displayed at Horning than on an average Southampton day.

Steve Bradley, owner of Serenity Charter, said: 'It's been fantastic. You see the boats in their proper environment. They're on the water, which for me is as they should be.'

Organisers thanked all volunteers, exhibitors and sponsors including Norfolk Yacht Agency, East Coast Training Services and BeWILDerwood.

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