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Evening Meeting With Amanda Mckean, Director Canterbury Festival

30th April 2024
Venue: Cricket Ground

Evening meeting with Amanda McKean, Director, Canterbury Festival.
View Event

Lunchtime Meeting Agm & May Business Meeting

7th May 2024
Venue: Cricket Ground
Lunchtime meeting 12.30pm for 1pm meal Annual General Meeting to be followed by the May Business Meeting.
View Event

Duck Race 2023 – plenty of sunshine and a fun day for all!

Well, the weather was EGGS-ceptional and we were delighted that hundreds of folks turned up to cheer on the 4,000+ ducks that took part in this year’s Duck Race at Canterbury’s Westgate Gardens. The ending, as usual, was EGGS-citing!

The event is our biggest fundraiser of the year and also a chance for us to put on a fun event that can be enjoyed by all members of the community.

The day started with early bird visitors “buying” some ducks from PP Mike Talbot and his team, joined by Rtn Jim Gascoyne who was manning the mike and doing the usual pun-filled routine. They were joined later by PP Tim Brett, aka Mr Duck, who happily posed for photographs with families and gave a “high five” to passing youngsters. 

We were honoured to be joined by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury (Councillor Jean Butcher) and her husband, and the Lady Mayoress (Di Baldock) – they all seemed to enjoy the race as much as other spectators!

Visitors set out their chairs or picnic blankets at their favourite vantage points along the route. There were marshalls stationed all along the river – with members of our club and their families joined by members of Sunrise, Forest of Blean and Whitstable Rotary Clubs. It was good to have two members of St John Ambulance Brigade manning the first aid tent in case anyone suffered from the heat or needed medical assistance.

As usual the ducks were launched off the bridge at Toddlers Cove by a party of strong Rotarians – helped this year by four youngsters from Archbishop’s School in Canterbury. Following the countdown in which the spectators joined in, the ducks gradually meandered their way towards the finish. Little strays were guided back onto the course by the team led by Dain Lewis (all former members of Canterbury Lifesaving Club). 

The spectators cheered on the ducks as usual – calls of “go ducks go” and “faster, faster, faster” could be heard from the children – and adults – lining the route! The EGGS-treme heat did mean that the ducks were playing it cool and and it was a rather gentler “race” to the finishing line than usual. They were accompanied this year by a beautiful white swan which calmly swam along with them towards the end point. The winners received cheers and applause from all!

Our amazing team of Duck Rescuers were in the water at the end point, busily collecting the ducks back into big yellow buckets as they crossed the finishing line. No EGGS-pense was spared on the technology used to collect back all the ducks: sticks, small fishing nets .. and yes, colanders! We did have the challenge of a couple of punts crossing the line this year but we hope that all the EGGS-scapee ducks were returned safe and sound!

The Lord Mayor and Jim announced the winners. The Lord Mayor thanked everyone for coming to the annual event: “It’s always great fun,” she said, adding “with the weather this year, I think everybody has had a great day!”

The winning duck, whose sponsor will receive a £250 prize, was no. 1914. It was followed by the 2nd prize winner (£100) no. 1514, the 3rd prize winner (£50) no. 2470 and 4th (voucher) no. 2612. Well done! 

Corporate duck (marked in red) no. 55, sponsored by Simon Smith, was the first of the corporate ducks across the finishing line; the winner will receive champagne. 

We don’t have the final figures for how much was raised for the great local and international causes that we support but will let you know the sum as soon as we have it. All-in-all the day was a glorious success and we think everyone, young and old, had a wonderful time. 

We’re grateful to all who helped us put on the duck race and helped make it such a success.

Many thanks to the Lord Mayor of Canterbury and the Lady Mayoress for joining us and to the friendly folk from St John Ambulance for being on hand with first aid. As always, thanks to Westgate Parks, Whitefriars, Canterbury City Council for various permissions, 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 thanks to Neil Fraser, Tony Loughran and President Rosemary Doyle who took on the challenge of organising the race, to Race Day Coordinator Viv Pritchard, Health & Safety and Safeguarding Officers Raj Dasan and Maxine Blades, the launch party headed by Stephen Thompson (and including students from Archbishop’s School), and the brave recovery party (Rupert Williamson, Mark Esdale, Hilary Brian, ADG Kevin Fielding, Peter Woolnough, James Gibbs, PP Richard Kemble-Cook, Stephen Thompson, Sue Thompson, Sharon Jordan and PP Alastair Scott, with PP Phil Abbott on land) and Dain Lewis and her team guiding the ducks (Martin Baker, Liz Baker and Keith Franklin).

A huge thanks as ever to PP Tim Brett who wore his heavy Mr Duck outfit and happily posed with youngsters despite the heat.

We are delighted that members from other Rotary clubs were able to join us and would like to thank Sunrise in particular for the loan of their gazebo and the Tatt family for use of their van. Great team effort everyone!

Thanks to all sponsors and to those that helped spread news about the event whether it be on social media, print, the radio, or by word of mouth – including My Canterbury, Visit Canterbury, Community Ad, Canterbury Kids, The Walrus & Oyster Emporium and the Kentish Gazette and various Rotary Clubs and members.

Finally, our biggest thanks go to members of the public and local companies that either sponsored ducks, placed ads in our flyers, or came along with friends and family to cheer the ducks and made the event such fun!

Picture: Mr Duck (aka Tim Brett) poses for a picture with visitors. Picture Credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury. (Reproduced with permission.)

Further pictures and video clips from the duck race are now available in an album on our Facebook page



Get in Touch

The Rotary Club of Canterbury
St Lawrence Cricket Ground
Old Dover Road,
Canterbury, Kent,
CT1 3NZ,
United Kingdom

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