High Wycombe scouts have been "reluctantly" forced to cancel their annual parade in celebration of St George's Day this year.

The annual march usually draws in crowds of hundreds as the scouts - from across the town and beyond - proudly parade through High Wycombe town centre with their flags and banners aloft before a ceremony is held with dignitaries in All Saints Parish Church.

However, the iconic parish church was vandalised before Christmas – resulting in £7,000-worth of damage – meaning the number of people allowed inside has been limited to 350.

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With the service regularly attracting more than 500 people, scout leaders had been forced to look at alternative venues for the ceremony – but have been unsuccessful, forcing them to cancel this year’s event.

Ron Cooper, chairman of the High Wycombe and District Scouts, said the decision has not been taken lightly.

He said: “We thought long and hard about it and we tried to find an alternative venue but sadly we have found nothing that works. The only option was the Wycombe Swan but Sooty is on the stage that day. We also tried the university and the museum. Finding an alternative venue has proved impossible.”

Mr Cooper said the safety of those taking part in the parade and those watching is “paramount” – and ongoing roadworks in the area have made it difficult for organisers to get the road closed safely.

He said: “We have to make sure everyone is safe. We considered having two smaller parades throughout the day instead of one but it would be a logistical nightmare.

“It’s a real shame because the scouts really enjoy doing it. It’s an opportunity for them to seen. And the whole purpose of it is for them to renew their scout promise.”

There are plans to hold a different event later in the year to showcase the benefits of the scouting movement in the area – which could be held on The Rye around September.

Mr Cooper added: “We will sit down in the next few weeks to see what we can do. We’d like to hold an awareness event on The Rye so people can come and see what we are all about.”