River Thames raft stars earn their stripes for WaterAid

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Raft race 2019

These were some of the oar-some scenes in Reading as 40 home-made rafts took to the river to raise money for the Thames Loves Malawi appeal. 

Around 40 American-themed rafts crewed by brave souls from companies across the area took part in the annual race on the Thames on Thursday, July 4. 

Last night’s event has so far raised £30,000 for the £2million Thames Water and WaterAid appeal to provide clean water and toilets in the towns of Kasungu and Mponela. 

However that figure is set to rise – and could even rival last year’s total of £42,000 - once all the sponsorship has been collected. 

Marcus Missen, Director of Communications and Fundraising at WaterAid, said: “Today, one in three people in Malawi live without clean water close to home.  

Clean water is a human right, not a luxury item reserved for the lucky few.  

The longstanding support of Thames Water and its customers is vital as we work towards a world where clean water and good sanitation are normal, not just for people in Malawi, but for everyone, everywhere.”

Raft race 2019

The Raft Race took place on a glorious summer’s evening, and there was a real party atmosphere as crews soaked up the sunshine while enjoying a few drinks and a barbecue. 

A big crowd watched from the river bank and from Caversham Road bridge. 

As the race was held on Independence Day, there was a real American flavour, with crews dressed as astronauts, cowboys, Baywatch stars and red coats. 

And the rafts themselves, some comprising barrels, with others made from fibreglass or wood, had been decorated for the occasion, either painted with stars and stripes, or sporting American themes. 

The winners were the Red Coats team from Thames Water’s Energy & Carbon Team from Clearwater Court. 

Their “green machine” catamaran-type craft crossed the line in an impressive time of 19 minutes and 40 seconds. 

Runners-up in 22m 11s were Come Up Trumps from Morrison Utility Services, and third in 27m 55s were We Wuz Robbed from eight20 Costain. 

The last raft to cross the line in a time of 1:03:52 was crewed by Thames Water & Thames Valley Employers EDI Networks.