It is most gratifying to report that  the first major fund raising event organised by the Western Branch was also the first waterborne event to be held on the Thames & Severn Canal since the Trust was formed. The Raft Race held on the Wallbridge/Bowbridge pound on August Bank Holiday Monday proved a great success. Twelve rafts were entered, starting at timed intervals from Wallbridge Lock to the millpond and then returning. For the organisers, participants and spectators the day was most enjoyable and entertaining. The Bell Inn at Wallbridge laid on a barbeque, and both the Bell and the Clothiers Arms did a roaring trade. The Branch sales stand did a brisk trade, additional funds were raised by a bucket collection, program sales and a raffle at the Clothiers Arms in the evening.

    In financial terms, the net proceeds of the day were some ¬£230, which is satisfying, but the benefits of such an event, in publicity, public relations and goodwill cannot be underestimated. We received excellent coverage in the local press, both the ‘Stroud News & Journal’ and ‘Citizen’ giving good reports.

    A brisk trade in Trust membership application forms and publicity material was evident and the subsequent increase in towpath walkers who take an appreciative interest in our progress, and drop money into our site collecting boxes, has been marked. We now have two local publicans who are supporters of canal restoration. We have the use of the Lounge Bar at the Bell Inn for Branch meetings and also the new ‘Noggin & Natter’ evenings.

    At least two donations recently received can be directly attributed to the Raft Race publicity.

    A big ‘Thank You’ is due to Gloucestershire County Council and Stroud District Anglers Club for their co-operation. Thanks to all those who have helped to make the Raft Race such a success – let’s have an even bigger and better one next year!

    Tony Jones

    Click here to read original article in the Cotswold Canals newsletter The Trow


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