MORE than anything else, our lovely river should be fun for all who have the opportunity to use it. And nowhere is that spirit of fun better reflected than in the annual Shepperton Village Fair raft race, which is sponsored by the Nauticalia marine supplies company based in Ferry Lane and organised by Desborough Sailing Club.
This year’s race takes place on Saturday and it looks set to attract a record entry from amongst local groups including scouts, businesses, individuals, pub patrons and others who fancy taking on the challenge.
Quite simply, that challenge involves building a raft that must be propelled for one mile along the Thames, starting at a point close to Shepperton Lock where the river divides around Desborough Island and finishing just past the Desborough Sailing Club premises close to Lindsay’s Lawn by the Manor House.
Nauticalia director Ross Morrell tells me that the race was originally the idea of Nauticalia boss and well-known Shepperton resident Lynn Lewis, who, although now retired, will still be there on Saturday to present prizes to those who successfully complete the course.
“We have a different theme for the race each year,” said Ross, “and this year we’ve chosen ‘Musicals’ so we’re looking forward to see what ideas competitors have come up with.
“We love the ingenuity that teams use to produce and decorate their rafts and the event always pulls in a great crowd to watch.
“Needless to say, there are always a few rafts that turn out to be somewhat less seaworthy than others and end up being towed back to shore with their crews getting a ducking – but that’s all part of the fun.
“Sally Dick, the membership secretary from Desborough SC, provides a wonderful commentary and the event, which is now in its 20th year, has become a centre piece of the village fair. Since we’re a local company, we’ve been delighted to sponsor the event.”
Fingers crossed – let’s hope the sun shines for the fair and raft race organisers on Saturday. The raft race gets under way at 1pm and will probably take around 45 minutes over all. Best place to watch will be from the river frontage just behind Shepperton cricket club.
WELL done to all the owners of Dunkirk Little Ships who took part in the historic return to the French town to mark the 70th anniversary of Operation Dynamo – the incredible rescue of nearly a third of a million British and French troops from the beaches under the noses of the advancing German army in 1940.
It’s brilliant that so many of these small boats are still around to commemorate the event – kept in excellent working order thanks to the hard work and deep pockets of their current owners, many of whom live in our area.
I’ll be writing more about some of these craft in the weeks to come.