THE Chair of the Appleby Horse Fair Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG) has thanked those who heeded the advice to stay away from Appleby.

Dozens of visitors ignored the advice and arrived in Appleby for the event at the beginning of the month, despite it having been cancelled this year in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Les Clark, who is also a director at Eden District Council, said the decision to cancel this year's show had not been taken 'lightly'.

Praising those who steered clear of Appleby this month, he said: “Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s lockdown measures introduced in March, an announcement was made that the annual Fair would not take place.

"The efforts of the different agencies and partners which make up the MASCG did not cease however and I would like to pass on my thanks for their work during an extraordinary time for everyone.

“Announcing the Fair would not take place was not done lightly but was absolutely correct, and we are pleased that the overwhelming majority of people agreed and stayed away.

“Whilst we are disappointed that around 150 people did come to Appleby on the Sunday, and understand the upset this caused in the town, it is also important to look at the actions of those people in full context.

“Lockdown restrictions had been significantly loosened by the weekend the Fair would have taken place, meaning everyone in the country was free to travel wherever they pleased for a day trip without contravening any Covid-19 regulations.

“Typically, we see 15,000 to 20,000 visitors travel to the town for the Fair so it is important to thank the 98-99 per cent of those people who listened and took on-board the advice to stay away.

“The Fair will return to Appleby and we know that those who attend will be keen to make it one of the best in recent memory.”