GALLERY: Shrewsbury River Festival is a success

The Magnificent Severn came alive as hundreds flocked to its banks and took to the water for the annual Shrewsbury River Festival.

GALLERY: Shrewsbury River Festival is a success

It was the perfect day for people to try canoeing on the Severn by paddling under the Quarry Park footbridge. Picture: Jamie Ricketts

Spectacular summer sunshine brought out the crowds to watch and to join in a day of fun, centred around the longest river in Britain.

River going vessels of every shape and size, some more shipshape than others, took to the water for a host of events yesterday.

There were coracles and canoes, rowing boats and racing crews. A sub aqua club went underwater and there were also fishing demonstrations.

And a flotilla of plastic ducks, 1,000 of them, joined their bemused feathered friends in the river for a duck race, organised by STA, the water safety charity to mark water safety week.

Many took the chance to try a canoe session on the gentle waters of the Severn, paddling under the Quarry Park footbridge.

Organised by the Shrewsbury and Shropshire Waterways and Leisure Group, it is the fifth time the festival has been held in the county town.

This year the event coincided with National Water Safety Week.

The West Mercia Search and Rescue group staged a river rescue exercise as part of the festival and there was also a duck race to raise awareness of the UK’s leading educational water safety charity STA.

Shropshire’s Zoe Cooper, a member of synchronised swimming act ‘Aquabatique’, which made it to the finals of Britain’s Got Talent, helped release the orange ducks from the Sabrina Boat . 

A director of STA, Zoe said: “It’s so exciting to be part of this fantastic annual festival in my home town and for STA to be a partner at the event.

“It’s timely that STA’s second annual National Water Safety Week kicks off at the same time, when we’ll be holding events across the country to highlight how people can stay safe in and around water.”

Water safety was also highlighted when the West Mercia Search and Rescue group held a river safety exercise on the water during the festival. Karen Burgoyne, one of the organisers of the event said: “They contacted us when they heard about the festival and said they had planned a river rescue day and could they move it to Shrewsbury to be part of the festival. 

“It meant they also manned the safety boats for us for which we are very grateful.”

Out of the water the fun centred around Shrewsbury’s Quarry Park.

Entertainment included music from the Chicago Swing Katz Band, military vehicles, a climbing wall, football fun from Shrewsbury Town and stalls and sideshows as well as an exhibition by West Mercia Search and Rescue.

Pirates was the theme of the festival’s fancy dress competition with children an adults joining in the fun.

The marauding pirates mingled with others in costume, the members of the battle re-enactment group from the 1815 Battle of Waterloo , the 5th/60th Rifles, complete with muskets and camp followers. They taught youngsters how to drill from their riverside camp as well as taking part in the re-enactment.

The festival, the fifth to the held in the town is organised by the Shrewsbury and Shropshire Waterways & Leisure Group a volunteer body, supported by a number of organisations including Shrewsbury Town Football Club, Salop Leisure, Salop Computer Centre, Henshalls Insurance, Team Shrewsbury, Shropshire Fire and Rescue, West Mercia Police, Shrewsbury Army Recruitment, Telford Sea Cadets and the RNLI.

Karen said: “It is hard work as we are a small committee but seeing thousands of people from children through to older people enjoy the day in fantastic weather makes it worthwhile.”

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