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Tidal surge swamps ducks

PUBLISHED: 07:12 05 October 2009 | UPDATED: 08:39 01 August 2010

Crowds gatther to watch the Beccles Duck race which had to be restarted after a tidal surge

Crowds gatther to watch the Beccles Duck race which had to be restarted after a tidal surge

Organisers of the Beccles Duck Race averted a washout yesterday when a tidal surge flooded the entertainment area at the height of the event.

Organisers of the Beccles Duck Race averted a washout yesterday when a tidal surge flooded the entertainment area at the height of the event.

Stall holders and stewards at Beccles quay rushed to move to a neighbouring field after the River Waveney broke over at high tide and into the area which had been set up to host thousands of revellers.

The drama took hold at about 1pm, just two hours before the race heats were to begin, but organisers moved quickly to shift the race course to a different stretch of water while spectators crossed a bridge to watch from dry ground.

The unexpected turn of events failed to ruffle the feathers of the stars of the day -120 big ducks in the corporate race and about 3,000 miniatures racing in the main event, while some onlookers took to their boats to watch the race from close-up.

The excitement did nothing to deter the crowds, with displays, stalls and the collection of 20 giant artistically decorated ducks that have adorned Beccles through the summer proving a big attraction for youngsters.

Organiser Liz Goldspink said that race day, in its fifth year, was a great success, despite the flooding.

“It has been eventful but brilliant,” she said. “A normal high tide would have been fine but there was a tidal surge and we weren't warned about it until 9am, by which time the marquees were up.

“We normally drop the ducks from a crane at Gillingham Road bridge and people stand on the bridge and watch the races but we had to move the course.”

She added: “Everyone waded in together, we're all soaked through, but it's been good - it's the community spirit.”

Proceeds will again go to eight schools in Beccles and Worlingham.

The Environment Agency had put flood watches in place on tidal rivers Waveney, Wang, Bure, Ant, Thurne and Yare over the weekend, as well as along the coast at Lowestoft and Southwold. The status of alert all the areas was updated yesterday afternoon to give the all clear following high tide, meaning that the flood watches were no longer in force.

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