The Easton Duck Race 2016

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The vote that we are going to make on 23rd June will have far reaching consequences, but I don’t think that even those leading the Remain and Leave campaigns can come up with the impact that a vote one way or the other might have… on the Easton Duck Race.  I suppose one could just imagine that a bureaucrat in Brussels (famous for its humour) might introduce legislation banning the racing of ducks for sport or perhaps some small clause in a Directive might limit the amount of long chain polymers which can safely be introduced into a chalk stream at any one time, but on the whole I think that the duck race is pretty safe.

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That is of course unless the whole European project is really a way of stamping out English eccentricity altogether. If that is actually the aim, then the Easton Duck Race is a prime target. It has to be said that it (the Duck Race) is TOTALLY BARMY from the beginning to the end. What total madness to pour dozens of numbered rubber ducks into the River Itchen and then to have one of our top national television news reporters – Robert Hall – looking imperial in a solar topee – commentate on their journey downstream.

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It was totally gripping. As the ducks turned round ‘Mawdor’s bend’ toward ‘Hell’s Deep’, we found that numbers 182 and 631 were neck and neck – or rather necking – in a clinch, beak down, in the cold water. But, although it seemed that a tie would have been a really good result – a sort of Invictus Games sort of result – heroic competitors crossing the line together – number 631 was declared the winner by a whisker – or rather a beak –  before being fished out of the river by Simon Ffennell, one of our stalwart river men, to avoid the beak crossed lovers ending up in Winchester, Southampton or possibly (for all I know) at the bottom of the Marianas Trench (wrong ocean – I know..)

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The whole event in its crazy Englishness was a total delight and a joy be involved in. Thank you so much to the Duck Race committee for their hard work, to our wonderful river men, to Jill Croft for organising all the food for the barbecue afterwards for those who provided the food and cooked the BBQ, for those involved in the Garage Sale and Plant Sale as well. And a particular thank you to Julie Taylor for running the Box Office for the event and to all those who sold ducks.

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But most of all a huge thank you to Judy Bishop who has held this event in all its craziness for almost 20 years from her house. This is the last year she will be hosting the event as she is moving just up the hill – but it is great that she is remaining living in the village.

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We are pleased to welcome Andy and Claire to Easton to take over her house. It is a total delight to hear from them both that the Duck Race will continue into 2017.

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Thank you on behalf of Revd Amanda Denniss and the whole of the PCC for this event which raises so much for the Itchen Valley Churches and is a great occasion in the Itchen Valley calendar, quite apart from being a lot of fun.

Revd Alex Pease

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