7th Dec, 2016

All aboard for 40th raft race

Stratford Editorial 23rd Jul, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

LOCK UP your treasure – a band of pirates will be setting sail on the River Avon on Sunday.

Their ‘ship’ is one of scores set to take to the water to make a splash in the 40th anniversary Raft Race – paddled by a motley crew of staff from Heart of England Mencap, the main beneficiary of this year’s charity fundraiser.

Setting sail in their fearsomely-named craft ‘Boaty McBoatface’ will be six pirates, including Head of Operations Hayley Hemmings, Quality Assessor Yvonne Ferguson and Team Leaders Chris Howkins and Ben Pate.

The 40th anniversary Raft Race – organised by the Shakespeare and Wellesbourne Lions – is sponsored by The Rosconn Group.

Rafts enter the Avon in Wasperton, with teams racing to paddle a 7.5 mile course to Stratford, negotiating two weirs en route.

Since it started back in 1976, the Race Race has raised more than £750,000 for different charities, with Heart of England Mencap, supporting local people with learning disabilities, set to benefit from this year’s event.

Money raised will boost fund-raising for specialist cycles and storage – allowing people with learning disabilities to get out, keep fit and experience the joy of cycling.

“The ultimate aim is to have a dedicated cycle track,” said Cath Errington, fund-raising manager for Heart of England Mencap.

“The support of the Race Raft and all of those taking part will make a huge difference – we can’t thank the Lions enough, and we wish everyone the best of luck on the river – not least our very own pirate crew. Huge thanks to The Rosconn Group too – the company’s sponsorship will fund safety teams at both weirs.”

And landlubbers can head to Stratford to soak up the atmosphere, watch the rafts paddle in and enjoy some old fashioned fun and games. Heart of England Mencap will be running several stalls on the Recreation Ground, from hook-a-duck to splat-the-rat. They will also be selling crafts, cakes, bubble wands and lion keyrings.