MATLOCK RAFT RACE: Thrill-seekers tame river wild

Matlock Boxing Day raft race. Some Umpalumpas break their cover.
Matlock Boxing Day raft race. Some Umpalumpas break their cover.

Scores of hardy fund-raisers braved the icy cold River Derwent on Boxing Day as they took part in the 52nd annual Matlock Raft Race.

The popular event, which saw competitors steer home-made rafts from Matlock to Cromford Meadows, drew together thousands of onlookers who lined the river to watch the race unfold.

Matlock Boxing Day raft race.

Matlock Boxing Day raft race.

One group took to the water dressed as Umpalumpas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, while another participated in an imitation VW campervan.

Other rafts included sports cars and Minis.

The race is organised each year by the Derbyshire Association of Sub-Aqua Clubs who have raised more than £200,000 for charity in over 47 years.

Ray Foster, who helped organise the much-loved event, said that after it started from humble beginnings, the race is now the event of the year.

He added: “The day went absolutely perfectly. We didn’t have any hiccups, it went very smoothly. Organisationally, it was the best we have ever done.

“Each year brings up it’s own issues from the previous race that need tweaking and this year those issues were well organised, and this pleased us no end.”

Ray said that the team are already getting ready for the next race.

“Believe it or not, we have to start planning the next one a year and a week in advance.”

A total of 36 rafts took part in this years race and so far approximately £5,800 has been raised for charities, including the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, the St John Ambulance and the UK Hyperbaric Unit, which treats diving injuries.