ONE of the biggest events in Abingdon’s calendar, the Spring Head of the River, has been cancelled for safety reasons after river levels rose over the weekend.

Thousands of people were expected to watch 360 crews battled it out this Sunday at the Abingdon Rowing Club event.

But yesterday the club made ‘difficult’ decision to cancel the 2,000 metre upstream race six days before it was due to go ahead, because of high water levels, risk of flooding and danger to boats.

It said with more rain forecast for the week ahead it made sense to cancel the race.

ARC spokesman, Paul Wenman, said: “We don’t take such decisions lightly - rowers are a hardy bunch and only significant safety risks keep us off the water.

“This is a major disappointment for the club.

“As well as the huge amount of work invested over many months by members, it is our main annual source of revenue, allowing us to re-invest in club facilities, equipment, coaching and more.”

He added: “It is also regrettable for Abingdon - we had about 1500 visitors to the town last year, helping to widen the town’s appeal as a centre for leisure and business.”

It is the second time in three years the event has been cancelled - after 2016’s race was scrapped due to unsafe river conditions.

But before that it hadn’t been cancelled for more than 25 years.

The club said the river had been on the ‘Red boards’ which indicates very high water levels and was expected to remain that way until Sunday.

Mr Wenman said: “Taking the decision on Monday allows us to give some reasonable notice to the 360 crews coming from across the UK.

“It also allows us to minimise the costs of cancelling suppliers.

“We would like to extend our thanks to all who have supported the preparations for the event, sponsors, suppliers, local lock-keepers, councils and participating crews, who will be disappointed after all their months of training.”