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Paddles at the ready for the return of Thames Water's Raft Race

Tuesday 14th September 2021 17:01

People wearing orange lifejackets paddling on rafts on the River Thames

Thames Water's 2019 Raft Race

Paddles, floating barrels, and superhero capes are among the items ready to set sail down the River Thames as Thames Water's Raft Race returns after a year off.

The company's popular charity challenge, which has been running on the River Thames for over 22 years to raise money for WaterAid had to be cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It will return to Reading on September 23, with groups of staff already busy building makeshift watercraft to race from Reading Rowing Club to Fry’s Island and back.

This year's race theme is ‘Superheroes’, in honour of all the key workers that have continued to work throughout the pandemic.

On the day competition entrants will hope to take home prizes for the fastest raft, the 'least sporting behaviour', the best dressed and the ultimate prize for the team that raises the most money.

Spectators will be able to view the festivities and enjoy a BBQ from 4pm at Reading Rowing Club and watch the caped participants race around Caversham Bridge from 5pm.

Paresh Kavia, Joint Chair of Thames Water Charity Partnerships Steering Committee, said: “We’re so pleased Thames Water’s Raft Race can return this year. It’s a fun day out we all missed and we’re looking forward to raising a lot of money for WaterAid. I can’t wait to see all the different costumes and rafts our colleagues will create. The theme for the race this year is Superheroes so we can expect to see them dressing up as comic book heroes or as the key workers who helped keep this country going through the pandemic.”

Thames Water staff have recently raised more than £1.3 million to improve access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene in impoverished communities in Malawi.

In partnership with WaterAid, the company’s Thames Loves Malawi project saw employees swimming, cycling, trekking and quizzing to raise much-needed funds for two towns in the African country.

The latest figure means Thames Water’s employees and customers have donated more than £40 million to WaterAid since the charity was founded in 1981, with the money going towards vital projects across the globe.

During the coronavirus lockdowns Thames Water’s key workers continued to deliver essential water and wastewater services by continuing to work out on the roads, at water and sewage treatment sites and in the company’s control and customer centre offices, in line with government health advice.