Two thousand ducks race 'slowly' at popular Maidenhead Duck Derby

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Maidenhead’s Duck Derby and family fun day went swimmingly on Sunday – with 2,225 yellow rubber ducks released into the Thames.

The striking 40-year-old annual event, organised by the Lions Club of Maidenhead, saw Maidenhead Sea Cadets release the ducks and then proceed downstream to catch the winning bird.

Set at Ray Mill Island, the comical race was surrounded by stalls selling goods and games, starting at 1pm and ending at 4.30pm.

The Maidenhead Sea Cadets start boat was ready to release the ducks at 4pm.

Mayor John Story started the duck race with a long blast on the air-horn and the ducks were released downstream.

They floated along at a leisurely pace this year due to a slow waterflow downstream.

Eventually the first three ducks to finish were picked up by a Sea Cadet canoeist with the mayor announcing the winners. The remainder of the ducks were caught in a barrier made by the boats with the Sea Cadets to ensure no duck was left to float away.

Activities included a bouncy castle, face painting, music and storytelling, as well as the Lions’ own fun train. There was also a draw for a luxury hamper.

Maidenhead MP Theresa May, the Royal Borough’s mayor Cllr John Story and mayoress Barbara Story attended.

Other organisations joining the festivities included Soroptimist International of Slough Windsor and Maidenhead, Manor Green School PTA, Wild Maidenhead, Thames Valley Animal Welfare and Maidenhead Drama Group.

Jo Manisier, a member of the Duck Derby committee, said: “It was awesome to once again see a community event running which was so well supported, with everyone having a good time and enjoying themselves.

"The Duck Derby committee is delighted that the event was so popular and enjoyed by so many people.”

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