Help keep town raft race afloat

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Matlock’s Boxing Day raft race is set to take place this year – but organisers say unless volunteers come forward next year could be its finale.

Last year the annual race, which has raised thousands for charity and drew a crowd of over 12,000 people in 2010, was cancelled for only the second time in its history.

This year’s 49th event is set to take place but could be scrapped when it reached its landmark 50th anniversary, due to a lack of volunteers.

The four men behind the popular venture, who have a combined age of nearly 300, have issued an urgent appeal for helpers.

One of the organisers Richard Middleton said: “I’m over 70 and our youngest member is 59. We really need new people to take it over.

“If nobody comes forward it is still on the cards to stop on the 50th anniversary. Next year could be the finale.”

He added: “We meet five times a year and do two walks, one in a few weeks time and one on the Sunday before the event to do the final checks along the route and ensure everything is in order.

“Helpers wouldn’t have to give up too much of their time. It’s not a big commitment.”

Last year’s 48th event was cancelled when a large tree fell in to the River Derwent causing a danger to rafters.

Melting snow had also raised the water level and sticks and logs had lodged against the A6 bridge in Matlock.

Business bosses said losing the race, which is hosted by Derbyshire Association of Sub Aqua Clubs, would be a massive blow for the area.

Richard added: “Businesses do look forward to it. They did suffer last year.

“Some didn’t open when they knew it had been cancelled.”

Fellow organiser Tony Street said: “We are still down to only four of us struggling along so we’ll just have to see what happens this year.

“Matlock Bath Parish Council has given us some money towards printing posters because I think it really hit Matlock Bath hard. The revenue must have been down on the day.”

Anyone wanting to help out at next year’s raft race can contact Richard Middleton on 01332 343216 or visit the club’s website at www.dasac.co.uk

n Are you a business which benefits from the event every year? Can you offer any help to the organising team?

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