On Sunday the popular Raft race run by the Rotary club of Chester took place on the meadows. It was the 40th anniversary of the race which began in 1975. I arrived early and went to see some of the rafts being set up over on the meadows , with crowds already gathering in the Groves and suspension bridge. The course is 1 mile long and runs downstream towards the weir with the race finishing on the north bank by the recorders steps. Before the start of the race the crowds were entertained by Jay St John with a spectacular fly boarding display. His aerial twists and turns as he appeared to fly, hoisted by jets of water led fellow blogger Daniel Schott to comment that it was “awesome.. looks like it’s not real” Another commenter was heard telling their child “its like Iron Man or something!” The presence of St John, who competes internationally in the futuristic sport is a real coup for the city.
By possession of a “big camera” and the presence of long-term friend of the account Cllr Sam Dixon the team were able to get onto the bandstand and chat to some of those involved starting off with Tim Holmes of the Rotary club who was commentating on the race.
“I do the commentary on the raft race every year and people tell me they seem to like it anyway, that’s why I do it. We have this year, Jay St John, the bloke on his fly boarding, he’s a great attraction, he brings loads and loads of people along here and it’s really great entertainment. The rafts are really great, we had 35 rafts this year. Great fun and we’ll raise a few pounds for charity” Since 1975 we have raised “many thousands and thousands of pounds over these years for good charities” This year’s chosen charity was the Wirral and North Cheshire Prostate Cancer support group. Based in Ellesmere Port the charity helps patients and their families and works to raise awareness of the disease.
Cllr Dixon commented that there were “100s of people lining the banks of the River Dee and the suspension bridge.. its been a fantastic morning with local companies supporting the raft race and raising money for charity, and basically dunking their staff in the water. Its been a great laugh”
The race was a great spectacle as always and full credit to The Rotary for another successful event. The rafts were all looking great with the theme being Chester through the ages. The winning raft was crewed by staff from Survitec group, a Birkenhead based marine and aviation security firm, who were coincidentally this years sponsors.
Photographer Chris Jeffery took part in the race back in 19878 with the Ship Victory. ” I’ve been coming here since 2008, overall its a fantastic Chester experience and it just seems to get better and better, las year with the addition of Jay st John adding a whole new incentive because when the rafts get to the groves they’ve then got to battle Jay and his water sprays. Overall a fantastic event for Chester that really puts us on the map.” He said there had been “lots more publicity this year with the raft race having a twitter feed we’ve been able to keep up with it a lot better than previous years”
Jennie Povey :“We were raft number 26 representing Anchor Group services. The idea came about on our nights out and a couple of weeks ago we decided we were gonna go for it! We built the raft in my driveway, we did the theme of the clock… it was a great team effort from us all” “it was fantastic on the raft, it was hard work , my arms are aching. We kept going off left into the bushes! The fly boarder was absolutely fantastic!”
Another great day for Chester, the city where “there is nothing to do” Long may it continue.