Raft race better and wetter than ever!
By David Wood
Stroud's legendary raft race is back - and it's going to be bigger and wetter than ever, according to its organisers, Cotswold Canals Trust.
The charity is calling for teams to get in on the act and take part in the event, which hasn't taken place since 2019 due to the pandemic.
Chair Jim White explained: "This year's Raft Race is special for several reasons. It's been a subdued time, but our volunteers have been working hard and we've made a remarkable amount of progress towards our goals of restoring the length of our Stroudwater and Thames & Severn Canals and reconnecting to the national network.
"We've completed the stretch of waterway under the roundabout at Fromebridge Mill and the bridge at the Ocean in Stonehouse - so the raft race is a celebration of those achievements.
"This is also our golden anniversary year: it was in 1972 that Mike and Beryl Ayland and a small band of optimists conceived the idea to transform the overgrown, silted-up waterway that ran through our valleys into the beautiful, green-fringed channel we're beginning to see today.
"We've called this year's race the Golden Duck, to pay tribute to those visionaries who inform and inspire the work we do today.
"Our event also marks a year since we said a fond farewell to the man who breathed new life into the Raft Race back in 2016, Luciano Magalotti, the former landlord of the Clothiers Arms and a true community hero. As well as a celebration of Luciano's life and spirit, it's a chance to banish the blues of the last couple of years and come together in a day that's packed with laughter and joy."
The raft race will take place on Sunday, July 3, the day when Luciano passed away last year, in his memory.
Getting the ball rolling this year is Harry Counsell, the Clothiers' current landlord, who is generously sponsoring the event.
Harry, who also runs the Bowbridge Arms, said: "Luciano was an inspiration to me and hundreds of others in Stroud and beyond. He was all about the community and the canal. Our pubs provide communities a place for rest, fun, celebration and shared moments. We're delighted to remember Luciano by supporting the Raft Race this year and know that he's still able to bring the people of Stroud together!"
Cotswold Canals' Raft Race sees hundreds of people coming along to cheer on the intrepid rafters as they pilot their homemade craft along the canal from Wallbridge to Capel's Mill. Businesses, charities, youth groups and families and friends are warmly invited to register to take part in the fun, and to raise funds for the charity's work.
The charity is also seeking sponsors, as fundraising ambassador Aimee-Louise Malcolm explains: "Our Golden Duck Raft Race will be a way for everyone to show our pride in our town, our community, and our canals. We're proud to have Harry of the Clothiers and Bowbridge Arms as our main sponsor, and we welcome other local businesses to be part of this memorable and highly visible event."
Only 21 teams can participate on the day and places are booking fast. All you need to take part is a team willing and able to build a raft, six intrepid paddlers...and a great sense of humour.
To register a team, please visit Register your craft - Cotswold Canals Trust
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