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Dovedale waters turn white with 5,000 ducks

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: April 21, 2014

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HOWLING winds and grey skies didn't deter the decent sized crowd from turning up for the 4th Dovedale duck race on Sunday.

Five thousand white plastic ducks, along with one big yellow ‘super-duck’, were released from the iconic stepping stones on the river Dove, to raise funds for the non-profit organisation, Watersafe UK. Tickets cost £1 each, with three prizes for the first ducks home, of £250, £100 and £50.

Team leader Nigel Cobb said: “We’re so pleased the rain held off this afternoon because when we arrived this morning to set up it was freezing cold and raining heavily.

“There’s a good turnout, so we hope everyone has fun today.”

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As well as having the chance to win cash prizes in the duck race, the spectators were also treated to a selection of home-made cakes and biscuits on sale, and a giant Hook-a-Duck had also been set up in one the river’s small eddies.

Carolyn and Paul Casterton, together with their two children Ava, 6, and Billy, 3, tried their luck at the game. A family team effort saw them successfully hook two of the yellow plastic ducks – much to the delight of Billy and Ava who were rewarded with a selection of sweets.

Carolyn said: “This is brilliant – the kids are really enjoying themselves, and we are so lucky with the weather today. We’ve been for a lovely walk along the river and they’ve enjoyed splashing around and having fun.”

Meanwhile Mia Overton, aged four, was thrilled with her yellow squeaking duck but assured her mother, Charlotte, that she wasn’t going to let it go in the river. Charlotte said: “This is a great way to spend Easter Sunday – Mia is having a fun time with her new toy, and it’s all helping support a good cause.”

Watersafe UK is a volunteer-run search and rescue organisation, covering the whole of the East Midlands area, but concentrating particularly on Derbyshire. It was established in 2009, and works alongside the police, ambulance and fire services in water-related emergencies.

Nigel said: “It costs about £10,000 a year to run the service and it’s only through the generous support of people who come along to events like this that we can continue.

“Last year’s duck race was not so well attended – because it was snowing, but we hope to raise around £2,000 today.”

The group was recently deployed by the Fire and Rescue Service National Coordination Centre, based in London, to the widespread flooding which took place in Berkshire. It provided two swift water rescue boat teams to assist with the flood relief effort and spent a total of almost 40 hours on operational duties.

Just last month they attended the X-Runner's Wild Run held in Osmaston, and took 11 swift water rescue technicians to cover the water events. Out of 2,500 competitors the team helped more than 200 people getting out of the water and performed two rescues, both of which used the same nine metre reach and rescue pole which today was being gainfully employed as the Hook-a-Duck fishing rod.

The next fundraising event for the group is the 999 Round Britain Costal Challenge, on June 12 – when a team of 10 will attempt to circumnavigate the coastline of Britain. The route, from Poole in Dorset, will follow the coastline in a clockwise direction, and they hope to complete it in less than 9 days, 9 hours and 9 minutes – hence the challenge name, 999.

Further information on the group and how to support their next fund-raising challenge is available online at www.wuksart.org

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