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Cash boost for Lowestoft air show

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 July 2010

Organisers of the 13th Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival were jubilant last night after members of the public showed their support through a huge increase in voluntary donations.

Organisers of the 13th Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival were jubilant last night after members of the public showed their support through a huge increase in voluntary donations.

They revealed that nearly £119,000 had been put into buckets collecting donations - an increase of nearly 50pc from last year's figure of just over £81,000.

Visitors to the festival last Thursday and Friday were asked to pay £2 to ensure its survival in what had been described as a make or break year for the two-day spectacle. Last year visitors were urged to pay £1 to watch the free event.

Festival managing director Paul Bayfield said he was delighted by the response and added that the signs were looking good for next year's event.

“If ever there was a show of confidence of the public in us and the air show, this is it. I think this is absolutely amazing,” he said.

“This will help us someway towards making up the shortfall in our sponsorship this year and it is really now down to us to go forward and pick up on this confidence.

“While we have still got to get all our costs and invoices finalised, tentatively the signs look good for next year. You cannot be disappointed with support like this - I am really delighted.”

Mr Bayfield said that provisional figures for the event put attendance at 210,000 on Thursday and 215,000 on Friday.

“I have to say that apart from being delighted, I guess I am probably relieved,” Mr Bayfield added. “Everybody has put a lot of time and effort and love into this event. If we hadn't had such support, I think the whole team would have been disappointed.”

The beaches and seafront were packed over the two days as the crowds enjoyed displays, which included the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment parachute display team, The Blades, the Westland Apache helicopter operated by the Army Air Corps, and Carolyn Grace, the only woman Spitfire pilot.

This year's display had a European and American theme with aircraft from France, Holland and the USA taking part.

However, for many of the huge crowd the favourites were regular showstoppers the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

The air festival is worth £10m to the local economy and took place for the first time in July 1997.

The two days of airborne entertainment were followed on Saturday and Sunday in Lowestoft by the offshore powerboat grand prix event.

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