By Jason Moore

BRITAIN is pulling out the red carpet for the 300th anniversary of the British built military hospital on the Isla del Rey in the centre of Mahon harbour this year by sending the crack Red Arrows aerobatic team to the island in May.

The Red Arrows, will be performing twice with full displays on May 25 and 26. It is the icing on the cake for the celebrations which will also include a major naval presence in the Port of Mahon of many international navies. This is the first time that the Red Arrows have mounted a full display in the Balearics but it is not their first visit. About five years ago the team landed at Palma airport as a stop-off between a display on the mainland.

The military hospital on the Isla del Rey (or Bloody Islands as it was known to the Royal Navy) has been lovingly restored by a group of volunteers of all nationalities. It was the first British military hospital built outside the United Kingdom and it continues to be a lasting memorial to Britain´s 100-year-old rule of Minorca.

Last year Minorca celebrated its links with Admiral Collingwood, one of the most successful figures in the history of the Royal Navy. The celebrations included a visit by a Royal Navy warship and a bust of the famous admiral was unveiled on the Isla del Rey. Hundreds of people took part in the event.

Three years ago a delegation of more than 100 people from the Isla del Rey visited London for talks with officials from the Greenwich military hospital. The highlight was an agreement which was signed between the two.

The Council of Minorca is seeking to underline Britain´s roots with Minorca as it seeks to attract more British holidaymakers.
The fact that an elite team such as the Red Arrows is coming to the island should also boost tourism and ensure that the island has a great start to the holiday season.

Other events to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the military hospital are still in the planning stages at the moment but they will certainly have a very British feel. Minorca was a vital base for the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars. Admiral Horatio Nelson is reputed to have spent time on the island along with other major Royal Navy figures. The Minorcan language still has about 30 words in English and many British traditions are still maintained to this day on Minorca such as April Fool´s Day.