We had a fabulous time with our duck race today - thank you to the hundreds of folk that came to cheer on the 4,000+ ducks, or that helped things go so smoothly. We don't have figures yet for the fundraising, but we're sure the total will be good.
What a glorious day! We weren't sure what the weather would be like given we had to run the race a couple of weeks later than planned - nor were we sure of turnout. But an amazing number of people came along to enjoy the race, many with family and friends. Here's our pun-free account of the event.
People came along early and “bought ducks” from PP Mike and others and then bagged their favourite vantage points. Master of Ceremonies PP Peter Hermitage kept everyone entertained with jokes-a-plenty, while PP Tim Brett, aka Mr Duck, proved popular with adults and children alike and happily posed for photographs.
There were marshalls stationed all along the river - from our Club, Sunrise and Forest of Blean and Whitstable Rotary Clubs, and two members of St John Ambulance Brigade manned the first aid tent. A brave team were ready in the water at the end point to collect back all the ducks with nets, sticks..and yes, colanders!
As usual, the audience - many with young children - joined in the countdown as the ducks were thrown off the bridge into the Stour at Toddler's Cove in Canterbury's Westgate Gardens. It has to be said that some ducks seemed a bit too keen to get into the water! They were cheered on down the river as they jostled for their positions - with members of Canterbury Lifesaving Club guiding the little strays along the way.
The ducks were slower than they've been in past years so no records were broken, but it was fun following down the river to the finishing point. You could feel the tension as the first ducks could be seen heading towards the finishing line. Lots of shouts of encouragement were called out from the spectators, but it was clear there would be an outright winner, with the other ducks coming up behind to loud applause from the watching spectators.
Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Anne Dekker, and the Lord Mayor's Consort, Ken Dekker, were there to read out the winning numbers - we were honoured to have them join us today. The winning duck, whose sponsor will receive a £250 prize, was no. 2501. It was followed by the 2nd prize winner (£100) no. 2688, and the 3rd and 4th winners (£50 My Canterbury gift cards), no.s 2709 and 3789.
Corporate duck (marked in red) no. 13, was the first of the corporate ducks across the finishing line; the winners will receive champagne.
Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, the sun shone, the atmosphere was great, and all-in-all it was a really pun day. (Oops, sorry, that pun EGG-scaped!)
What's next for our Club? Well we're about to launch a crowdfunder for "The Point" later this week. If you want to know what "The Point" is, you can take an early peek here: https://gofund.me/525008cb.
Do please consider a donation if you can - but if you can't, we would still be grateful if you could share it with your friends, family, colleagues & contacts.
We're grateful to all who helped us put on the duck race today, including My Canterbury and the Kentish Gazette. Many thanks too to the Lord Mayor of Canterbury & the Lord Mayor's consort, and the friendly folk from St John Ambulance. As always, thanks to Westgate Parks, Canterbury City Council and to Rotarians, Inner Wheel volunteers and other helpers who helped with the 'sale' of ducks and who were keeping an eye on proceedings during the day.
A special mention to former Rotarian Dee Mepstead, who oversaw all the organisation for the race, to Race Day Coordinator PP Viv Pritchard, Health & Safety Officer Raj Dasan, the launch party, headed by PP Alan Mepstead, and the recovery party, headed by PP Martin Ward. A big shout out to PP Tim Brett who, as usual, cheered many youngsters in his fetching duck outfit!
We are delighted that members from other Rotary clubs were able to join us and would like to thank Sunrise for the loan of their gazebo. Great team effort everyone!
We'd also like to thank all who spread news of the event, whether it be on social media, print, the radio, or by word of mouth - including My Canterbury, Community Ad, Canterbury Kids - Back to fun times, various Rotary Clubs and Rotary Radio UK.
Finally, our biggest thanks go to members of the public and local companies that either sponsored ducks or came along with friends and family to cheer the ducks on the day and made the event such a success!
Picture: The ducks jostling for position along the Stour during the race. Picture Credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury.
Further pictures and video clips from the duck race can be seen in our Facebook album.