Messing about on the river at Hilgay’s annual raft race

Fun and games at popular village event to raise charity cash.

Rafts of all shapes and sizes and their determined crews will line up along the River Wissey in Hilgay next weekend as a popular fixture returns to the village.

Hundreds of people are expected to pack the river banks to cheer on the teams battling it out to win the Hilgay Raft Race.

Competitors from across the region flock to the village, near Downham Market, for the event and also raise money for good causes at the same time.

This year the race will raise money for Help for Heroes with the help of the Rotary Club of Downham Market. Last year the East Anglian Air Ambulance benefited from the family fun day.

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Organiser Ali Dent said: 'To take part in our traditional raft race, why not build your own and come and try the fun.

'Entry fee for our chosen charity must be paid on the day and hopefully you can raise some funds through sponsorship too. Rafts are a minimum of two people and a maximum of six.

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'Heats take place first where the crew must paddle to the bridge, pass one member of the team through the tyre suspended from the bridge and head to the finish line.'

Mr Dent said there would also be canoe demonstrations from Sue's Canoes, based in Watton, on the day with canoes also available to hire for a donation towards Help for Heroes.

'We will also have a cardboard canoe race with the winning prize being a little beer fridge. All we want people to do for this is simply build a canoe from cardboard and the first to cross finish line or travels the furthest wins.'

There will also be a barbecu children's rides and stalls, a bouncy castle, face painting as well as the popular duck race.

'We have, in the past, had as many as 2,000 people come to the village for the raft race and we are hoping for great weather to help make this an excellent event,' said Mr Dent.

There will also be a silent auction for a tandem skydive.

Around 16 teams have already signed up for the raft race but that number will increase on the day with last-minute entries.

The fundraising event comes after Mr Dent raised �3,250 for Help for Heroes with one of his twice-yearly book sales in the village.

The book sales have been running for about 30 years and have raised more than �100,000 for a variety of charities.

The next sale in October will be raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

The Hilgay Raft Race takes place on the fields adjacent to the River Wissey and will start at 12noon with the first race at 1pm.

For more information or to enter the race, contact Ali Dent on 01366 387686.

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