Visitors and staff at the Beale Park Boat Show at Lower Basildon in Berkshire, were delighted by the surprise arrival of three Chelsea Pensioners on Saturday (11th June), who joined two serving REME soldiers, together with Nick Bailey - Park Director, Richard Howard - Chairman of Beale Park and Boat Show Director and Mark Weldon - County Manager for Berkshire Royal British Legion (RBL) to officially open the Show.
The Chelsea Pensioners, dressed in their distinguished scarlet uniforms, spent the day soaking up the atmosphere. They watched the RBL's drill routine before climbing aboard a replica Spitfire and Hurricane and then cruising up the Thames on the Devon Belle - one of two Dunkirk little ships to feature at this year's event.
"It was an honour and a privilege to welcome the Chelsea Pensioners." Said Nick. "There was a real sense of occasion and pride as visitors, exhibitors and staff alike stopped to acknowledge and greet the trio."
Nick continued, "The Chelsea Pensioners' participation highlighted the significance of our partnership with the RBL as we joined forces with them to celebrate their 90th anniversary (part of the "Great Poppy Party Weekend" - 10th-12th June) and to pay tribute to our Service personnel, past and present."
Saturday's visitors basked in glorious sunshine, while Sunday's attendees braved the storm clouds to enjoy the event's annual line up - featuring boats of all shapes and sizes, live music and entertainments, craft and produce, demonstrations, free boats trips and family canoeing.
Gillie Jackson, Show Organiser, said "The Boat Show has grown considerably in recent years, becoming a very popular event among the boating community and with the people of Berkshire. It really does have something for everyone with displays on the lake, a classic car display, a food court and children's activities – making it one of the UK's leading regional boat shows."
New for 2011, visitors witnessed the launch of Water Craft Magazine's "Cordless Canoe Challenge", which saw 12 finalists put their design and engineering skills to the test in boats which they had either adapted or built themselves, powered only by cordless power tools!
Following a series of heats staged over the weekend, the winning skipper was Tobias Vokuhl from Oxford. He designed and built the boat - "King Canute" and received a selection of high performance Makita cordless power tools worth more than £1000.00.
Boat Show organisers would like to thank The Pontoon & Dock Company for their continued support with the provision of the floating pontoons.
The Pontoon & Dock Company are distributors for some of the world's largest marine equipment manufacturers and have supported the event in recent years with the provision of vital equipment.