Deepings Raft Race is salvaged after financial pledge from businesses

A long-running river race has been salvaged from the depths of cancellation after businesses rallied round to offer financial support.

Organisers of the Deepings Raft Race reluctantly had to cancel this year’s event in February after the Rotary Club of the Deepings said it could not afford to run it.

But after a swell of community support from current and past committee members an effort was launched to salvage the race.

A new committee was formed and after several businesses pledged financial support it was officially confirmed on Tuesday that the race would go ahead this year on August 4.

Committee chairman Kevin Barber said: “So many events have been cancelled in the area and we wanted to keep this going for the Deepings and the people who know us for it.

“We didn’t want to do it if we didn’t have the funds but we now have enough committed.”

The race has raised thousands of pounds for various charities over the years and has been a highlight of the calendar in the Deepings.

Much of this year’s support has come from The Boundary fish and chip shop in Deeping St James. The business has been a key raft sponsor in previous years and this year has pledged about £3,000 towards the race so far.

Head of marketing Jean Shaw said: “We are very pleased the race is back on.

“We were disappointed when we learned it had been cancelled because it is the one day a year when the community comes together.

“Hopefully it will now get better and better.”

One of the key problems facing the raft race over the years has been funding. The committee wants to stop this being an issue in future so members have set up a dedicated bank account and are forming a constitution to try and secure the future of the event.

Mr Barber added: “We don’t want it to be a one-off, we want the race to keep going.”

This year’s race is likely to start at the Market Place and finish at The Boundary. The committee is keen to involve as many businesses as possible and has already secured support from Garfords Farm Machinery, Double and Megson Solicitors and Iron Horse Ranch House.

Mr Barber is also looking for support from volunteers to help run the event on the day and has been approaching clubs, societies and charities about taking part.

And rafters who want to take part are now able to apply, although a theme this year has not yet been decided.

If you would like to get involved in the race in any way, contact Mr Barber on 07703 016492, visit www.deepingsraftrace.co.uk or join the raft race Facebook group.

Entries are also being taken for this year’s Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival, which takes place on June 15 on the River Nene at the Embankment.

To take part in the event, now in its 15th year, visit www.dragonboatfestivals.co.uk/peterborough.