Family camp nightmare

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A FAMILY holiday camp turned into a disaster area when gale force winds lifted a marquee off its moorings and destroyed tents as children slept.

Ripon Salvation Army’s family camp in Kirkby Malzeard came to an abrupt end when bad weather put 32 adults and children in danger.

The group was camping in a field with small family tents surrounding a marquee on the night of Friday, May 27. The weather was calm when they went to bed between 10.30pm and 11pm, but winds grew stronger into the night, said Commanding Officer Steve Noble.

“The winds increased until they were gale force.

“Two of the girls went out to the toilet around 1.30am, and saw the marquee was being destroyed. They ran over to the leaders’ tent, and as they ran two of the marquee poles snapped and the whole thing was lifted into the air.”

The tent was blown around the field as families slept in tents close by, so organisers evacuated all 15 children to the nearby home of Christine Raynor while the adults tried to dismantle the marquee.

By 3am the marquee had been secured but with the campsite destroyed families had to be sent home or taken to the Salvation Army’s house in Ripon.

The next morning the field looked like a “warzone” with tents destroyed and belongings strewn all over the site, Mr Noble said, so the weekend had to be abandoned.

“We should have taken the children to Flamingo Land the next day, but that had to be cancelled.”

Organisers hope to reschedule the weekend but they estimate they face a £2500 bill to replace the destroyed equipment, as well as losing the money raised to put on the weekend.