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Popular raft race cancelled due to coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 12:37 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:38 30 April 2020

This year's Hilgay Raft Race has been cancelled. Picture: Ian Burt

This year's Hilgay Raft Race has been cancelled. Picture: Ian Burt

A popular river raft race has been cancelled due to the coronavirus and concerns over insurance cover.

This year's Hilgay Raft Race has been cancelled. Picture: Ian BurtThis year's Hilgay Raft Race has been cancelled. Picture: Ian Burt

The organiser of Hilgay Raft Race made the decision to cancel the event in light of the coronavirus pandemic and issues surrounding insurance.

The annual race, which is run by village butcher Ali Dent, was due to take place on the River Wissey on Sunday, July 12.

It was previously jointly run by Downham Market Rotary Club, but they withdrew in November as a result of a lack of volunteers.

A spokesman for the club said: “Downham Rotary had to take the sad decision to pull out of organising the 2020 Hilgay Raft Races.

This year's Hilgay Raft Race has been cancelled. Picture: Ian BurtThis year's Hilgay Raft Race has been cancelled. Picture: Ian Burt

“It had become increasingly difficult for us to find volunteers to help at the event which led to our withdrawal.

“It’s quite a strenuous day for those involved in the organisation and smooth running of the event which meant that we had to rely on able bodied volunteers.

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“We were very sad to withdraw, particularly as this was a superb vehicle for raising quite large sums of money for local worthwhile causes.”

Last year’s event was cancelled due to concerns over safety fears and insurance following a period of heavy rain.

Mr Dent has said the race, which started around 40 years ago, will not take place unless it is insured and is appealing for a charity or organisation to take it on.

He said: “I wouldn’t mind doing something on the river field when the virus has all gone.”

A Downham Rotary spokesman added: “It would be a great shame to see it end.”

Meanwhile, the annual Hilgay book sale, which was due to take place at Hilgay Village Hall on Sunday, May 17, has been postponed until October.

The event, which has been run by Mr Dent and his brother Des Dent for more than 35 years, sees villagers donate thousands of books to help raise funds for charity.

They have raised more than £120,000 for good causes during that time.

This year’s book sale aims to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, a previous sale for the organisation in 2018 raised more than £4,000.


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