Once a year, at May half term, there is the Croyde Duck Race. It runs for the whole weekend (in the stream that runs through the village of Croyde, Devon) and is great fun.
It is a fund-raiser for our local Croyde Surf Lifesaving club. Surf lifesaving is primarily a sport but it has the added benefit of teaching adults and children about safety and confidence in the sea.
There are five key programmes that our club at Croyde can provide, and that is: swimming; board paddling; beach challenges; surf rescue boat (see below); and Ski (a long, thin board suitable for an older youth to ride) training.
Being keen members of the club (even keener now Steve is the Chair) us Pickwellians went down to help out. I'm sorry Steve, but I just had to include the photo of you winning a gold in the relay competition last Summer. It was such a shame that the kit person accidentally brought down the 'Nippers' vests and not the adult sizes. I'm pleased to say that the Croyde club also likes a good laugh ;)
Our Liza was excited about being in the stream, in the role of 'stuck duck freer'.
Armed with a net, a wetsuit and her mates, she was good to go.
Even our London friends came dressed up in 'duck themed' clothing for the event.
The scene was set, the kids were excited, the crowd waited in anticipation for the first race. For weeks, the teams of volunteers have gone around the local pubs selling ducks to locals and visitors. It is £1/duck, you choose the number and colour of your duck (out of 400 eligible ducks), and if your duck comes in first, you win £100. Simples.
The finishing line was at the bridge and the team were ready to scoop up the winning duck.
Richard Windsor, stalwart member of the Croyde Surf lifesaving club, announces the first race is about to start.
Ben and his team of wonderful helpers, walk down the stream to the starting line.
They get ready for the grand tip, off the bridge.
'The Helpers' can't help but try to identify their own duck (but rest assured people they were under strict parental surveillance and the film cuts out just at the point where I said 'DO NOT TOUCH THAT DUCK')
When will they emerge from the bridge?
Families wait on the next bridge, for the first sign...
There is the first duck!
Can you sense this lady's excitement, as she spots her duck,
and cheers it on as it races down the stream.
The crowd at the finish line have no idea of the events further up the stream.
The 'stuck duck freer's' are hard at work, sometimes getting themselves stuck, (under low bridges) in the process.
As the ducks fight their way to the front,
the team eagerly await the first sighting.
Don't be fooled by the tiny orange juice receptacle in the right corner, this isn't an Usborne book, and that isn't a duck.
AND HERE THEY COME!
Lynn bends to scoop up the winning duck,
holds it aloft, and announces it is...
the gorgeous....drum roll... black, NUMBER SIXTY-THREE.
Here he is, looking rather smug, and a little tired.
As black number sixty-three takes a rest, all his friends are scooped up in a slightly, err, less sensitive way.
Then all the ducks get sorted into their colours, ready again for the next race. They get a 20 minute rest, then those poor ducks head out again for the next one. Don't worry chaps, only 14 more races to go.
As the rain started to take hold, and the duck races came to an end, we all went home to warm baths, some with achy backs (Liza), but the knowledge that we have been a small part of a big team in helping to raise around £2,000 for the next year of our wonderful club!
In case you were worried...
*No children or ducks were harmed in the process.