Wet weekend for raft racers in charity event

With pints in hand and paddles at the ready, contenders in the annual Fareham Raft Race got off to a flying start on Saturday.

The event is staged to raise money for Gafirs, the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service.

It is the fifth busiest lifeboat in the country, and relies on donations to keep running.

Events are planned all year, such as the New Year's Day swim, but it is the raft race at the marina in Old Gosport Road, in conjunction with the nearby Castle in the Air pub, that is the highlight of the calendar.

Joyce Thomas, fundraising secretary for Gafirs, said: 'It really is a big bonus for us, as it usually raises around 1,000. It costs around 35,000 for us just to keep still, and if we want money for capital projects, such as new tractors or new boats, the money for that has got to be found.

'We would like to thank all the members of the public who have supported this, and all those who've donated raffle prizes.'

Events such as live music, tarot card reading, and an outdoor bar were held at the pub nearby to keep the party atmosphere going, courtesy of pub landlord Alan Fry.

He said: 'It's a lovely event and it's to support Gafirs, which is a great organisation. Every year we will be doing this and it will get bigger and bigger.'

The winners of the raft race were the Fuzzy Ducks, who had to prove their mettle in the final by ensuring they were not only speedy but steady too.

Jon Wray, who was in charge of launching the races, said: 'I put a surprise in the final every year, and this year it was gloop.

The captains were given 8cms of gloop, which they had to carry on their raft, race around the course, and bring back to the table.

'There were points for the fastest, and points for how much gloop they managed to bring back.

'This event is about everybody having a good time and raising money.'

Jon Bradley, a member of the Downey Arms team, said: 'It's just fun and we raise money. That's what it's all about.'

Cheryl Spencer, chairman of the raft race committee, said there would be a special presentation to Gafirs in September, once all the money had been counted.

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