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Is Spalding Raft Race set for a 2018 relaunch?

Flashback to July 20, 1986 when a raft race was held on the Welland in the heart of Spalding. SG060917-800TW
Flashback to July 20, 1986 when a raft race was held on the Welland in the heart of Spalding. SG060917-800TW

A Spalding man aims to relaunch a popular raft race along the River Welland in the heart of Spalding.

Mark Le Sage (50) took part in the Spalding Raft Race 30 years ago and is an avid supporter of the Deepings Raft Race, which takes place on the same river.

He says the Spalding Raft Race start-line was near the Coronation Channel and competitors raced towards High Bridge. But Mark wants to see a revised event taking in more of the water, starting near the Twin Bridges but still finishing at High Bridge, and hopes to see it launch next year.

Spalding Guardian archive pictures show hundreds of people lining the riverbanks for a raft race that took place in the town on July 20, 1986.

Mark describes his experience of the Spalding event as “great fun”.

He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everyone had a laugh. It was a really fun, family day.”

Mark says his bid to bring back the race is in its very early stages and consents of all kinds will be needed for it to go ahead.

But he’s been heartened following a successful meeting with South Holland district councillor Harry Drury.

Mark said: “Everyone I’ve talked to so far has been very helpful and I’d especially like to thank Dani Nundy, Anthony Grunwell from the Water Taxis, Andy Prior from the Welland Yacht Club and Harry Drury for their support.

“The waterways around Spalding are an important part of this town’s heritage and I really feel we really under use their potential.”

Coun Drury had recently bought a kayak to paddle along the Welland and Coronation Channel, and had been thinking about the rivers as under used resources when Mark oultined the raft race idea.

Coun Drury said: “I am extremely supportive of the idea of a raft race and have agreed to help organise the event alongside Mark and anyone else who may be able to help by bringing their skills and experience to the table. This is a perfect opportunity for community groups, sports groups, businesses and residents to come together on Spalding’s oldest and most historic leisure spot to have a fun day out.”

To get involved emailhdrury@sholland.gov.uk or telephone 01775 888311.

• Email your raft race memories and pictures to lynne.harrison@iliffepublishing.co.uk

Previously ...

Messing about on the river in the Deepings Great British Raft off

Picture from Deeping Raft Race

VIDEO: Raft race a splash hit


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