By Andy Hirst

Slaithwaite’s first ever duck race was the biggest event the village has hosted for five years.

The event held on July 16 brought in an estimated 3,000 visitors and raised more than £13,000 for the 33rd Slaithwaite group which is raising funds for scouts to go on trips both in the UK and overseas, including a scout and leader attending the World Scout Jamboree in Korea next year.

More than 5,000 little plastic yellow ducks along with around 100 blue corporate ones had been sold and they raced down the River Colne for almost half-a-mile from the village centre to Spa Park where there were more than 50 stalls.

The yellow ducks were £2 each while the corporate ones were £25. The winning duck scooped £500 (Claire Ault), second place got £300 (Mark Godley) with £200 for the duck that came third (David Simpson). Bridal Box Boutique won the corporate duck race and a luxury hamper but then donated another £250.

The event took some organising with 50 volunteers involved on the day.

Slaithwaite group scout leader Richard Izzard said: “It was an amazing day and we ended up raising far more than we thought we would. The good weather really helped but it was just amazing that so many people bought a duck.

“It’s the biggest event the village has seen since the last Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival which was held back in 2017. It was brilliant to see so many people there and was a great comeback after all the lockdowns and challenges the pandemic caused over the last couple of years.”

Ironically, the lack of rain meant the river was quite shallow so instead of tipping the ducks in using a JCB – the traditional way of starting a duck race round here – the ducks were placed in the water and held back with meshing until the official start, a bit like a horse race.

They were followed downstream by Slaithwaite firefighters to make sure no duck was left behind. Cub leader Joanne Douglas was out on a paddle board sorting out ducks that needed rescuing in deeper water.

The winning duck floated past the finishing post in just under 90 minutes.

Richard added: “We are keen to do it again as it was such a wonderful community event. It was a fantastic day for everyone involved and I’d like to thank the core team who organised it, all the volunteers and everyone who bought a duck, both individuals and businesses. It shows just what good things can happen when everyone rallies behind an idea.”

Many businesses in the village helped to make the event happen and the main sponsor was Slaithwaite Cricket and Bowling Club.

The five prize fund sponsors were Ruddi’s café, Waves day care centre, Trojan Plastics, the Little Bridge wine bar and Destination restaurant. Other businesses helping were Ryder and Dutton estate agents and Byteback Creative who did the graphics. Huddersfield Round Table has provided the ducks.

Slaithwaite Duck Race has its own Facebook page

* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.