Volunteer support keeps Matlock Bath’s Boxing Day raft race afloat

The raft race has been given the go-ahead after adding safety support.
The raft race has been given the go-ahead after adding safety support.
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The Matlock Bath Boxing Day raft race will sail on for another year, after organisers found a new crew of willing hands to help steer the event.

The long-running tradition sees teams race four miles downstream on the River Derwent in homemade crafts to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as crowds cheer them on.

But doubts hung over the 2017 event until organisers recently expanded the crew of race marshalls.

Organising team chairman Matthew Eyre, 25, said: “We’ve had a growing problem with people throwing eggs from the riverbank, and leaving litter in the water.

“It may be meant in good spirits, but we’ve had a few injuries and the council and environmental agencies have taken issue with it. They’re doing things by the book, which is fair enough.”

To combat the problem, volunteers from 4x4 Response will be on hand to make sure everything is kept in good spirits, which has convinced authorities to licence the event again.

Matthew said: “I’m really glad. It’s a great event for local businesses, and there’s always a really good atmosphere which is enjoyable for the whole family. By all means come down and have fun but, please, no more eggs.”

Since the beginning, the event has been organised by local scuba divers to give them something to do in the cold months, and has raised more than £200,000 for the life-saving charity.

Boat crews can register at The Fishpond on the day, and must all be aged 18 or over. At least one member must be a qualified, fully-equipped diver to help maintain safety.

It costs £15 per boat, or £50 to sponsor a craft. The website www.matlockraftevent.co.uk will be going live shortly.