A FREE sports day proved a popular hit – with a long queue forming at the entrance of Basingstoke Sports Centre.

The centre, in Festival Place, is holding free sports sessions today between 12noon and 4pm for families looking for something to do during the half-term holidays.

But a large crowd formed when the fun day started at 12noon, and a queue soon stetched back to the entrance of the Starbucks cafe in The Malls.

Nigel Broome, duty manager and children at the sports centre, told The Gazette that he had told queuing families to return later, but many remained.

Mr Broome said the centre was at capacity with a one-in one-out policy.

He said: “We did not expect the numbers of what we have got here today but with the weather being what it is, everybody wanted to come to a free indoor event.

“We have tried to manage the queue as best we can, but everybody came at 12noon which is why the queue is so long.”

Those in the queue seemed to accept the situation, although some told The Gazette that the sports centre could have used a booking system for the day.

Jennifer Shearing, 28, of Shelley Close, Popley, was in the queue with her nanny friend and four children.

She said: “We have been queuing for nearly an hour. It was a little bit annoying when they were sending people away but it has been okay – we have played eye-spy and are keeping the children entertained.”

Activities for the fun day included football, swimming, and arts and crafts.