Boxing Day rafters battle the Derwent

Matlock boxing day raft race.
Matlock boxing day raft race.

Nearly 200 people took to the icy waters of the River Derwent on Boxing Day to take part in Matlock’s annual Raft Race.

In a show of bravery and sheer madness the intrepid rafters dressed up as members of the Muppets and Santa Claus, furiously paddling Minis through the rapids to the delight of spectators.

Richard Middleton, chairman of the Derbyshire Association of Sub–Aqua Clubs, which organises the event each year, said the race was a success.

“It went remarkably well,” he said.

“We had 37 rafts take part, although one had to be abandoned because it fell apart.”

The association batted away fears that the much–loved event would be cancelled due to recent heavy rain and proceeded with the 50th annual race as planned.

The teams started at Matlock and travelled down the river through Matlock Bath cheered on by the crowds, finally ending in Cromford.

The winning raft was Thompson’s Tree Services, with The Muppet Show coming second.

The winners were presented with trophies by Cllr Michael Wilderspin, vice chairman of Matlock Bath Parish Council, at the Fishpond pub, in Matlock Bath.

A total of £7,950 was raised from the race from collections along the riverside and entry fees for the rafts.

The money will be split between the RNLI, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, St John Ambulance and UK Hyperbaric Unit.

n To see more pictures and a video of the Raft Race visit