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Needham Market Raft Race takes on reality TV theme with Great British Bake-Off coming out on top



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Eight teams took to the water on Sunday to try and splash their way to victory at this year’s Needham Market Raft Race.

The 18th annual event saw the teams, each with four members, board their homemade rafts and race against the clock in front of around 1,800 spectators at Needham Lake.

Debbie Cadman, chairman of the organising committee, said: “It is always such a fun event and this year was no different.

2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873987)
2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873987)

“Those watching the race love to see people splashing around and falling in the water and all our teams took it on the chin which was great.

“It’s just a fun family event and we love putting it on.”

The first leg of the race marked a poignant start for Debbie and the rest of the organising committee, as it was dedicated to her sister Tracey who died of cancer ten years ago.

“Tracey was on the committee as well and so the Tracey Cadman Challenge is in memory of her,” said Debbie.

“This year was extra special because we thought 10 years was quite a big thing to mark. That race and trophy are very precious to us and we are very protective of it.”

2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: Team Morning Glory....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873913)
2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: Team Morning Glory....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873913)

After the starting round, the teams then went head to head, with the fastest teams finally singled out to compete in the grand final.

“It’s very exciting for those watching and it can be quite close at times,” said Debbie.

And it was double celebrations for the Cattermoles team which took the gold in both Tracey’s race and the overall competition.

But racing prizes were not the only ones up for grabs.

The teams were tasked with designing their floats around the theme of reality TV, with a winner chosen by judge David Hughes on the day.

2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: Team Jam Pot....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873915)
2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: Team Jam Pot....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873915)

“There were some brilliant ideas. We had jungle themed ones and The Only Way is Suffolk,” said Debbie.

The overall winner of the fancy dress competition was the Jam Community Pot team from Stowmarket, who themed their raft around the Great British Bake-Off.

“They had lots of people who go to their afternoon tea sessions knit various types of cakes,” said Debbie.

“The stall was covered in such a variety of cakes and that’s what we want. We want to see the community side of everything because that’s what it is all about.”

Team Morning Glory, whose members dressed as pirates, also bagged the Tickle Factor Trophy, which is awarded to the day’s most entertaining team.

2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873984)
2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: ....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873984)

“This was their first year doing the competition and they were just such good fun,” said Debbie. “Hopefully they’ll make a return next year.”

Most of the funds raised through the event are used to pay for insurance, with any left over given out to local charities and causes.

“We manage to give to a wide spectrum of things which is great for a little organisation like us so it’s important to thank everyone who comes along and contributes to that,” said Debbie.

She also wanted to thank the event’s overall sponsor Sackers, as well as the individual race sponsors and land owners.

2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: Team Celebrity Cyclone....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873917)
2019 Needham Market Raft Race..Pictured: Team Celebrity Cyclone....PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (12873917)

“My thanks goes out to Mrs Lillie and her daughter Janice who let us use their car boot field free of charge and to the kind sponsors of this year’s event,” she said.

“If we didn’t have all of their support, we would never be able to put the event on so we are very grateful for their help.”

She added: “We are always looking for helpers as well as teams to compete so please get in touch.”

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