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Needham Market Raft Race 2024 makes a splash





A wave of face paint, colourful circus costumes and rainbow wigs swept across a lake as hundreds gathered to watch a town’s annual raft race.

Needham Market Raft Race 2024 took place yesterday with teams racing their handmade rafts across Needham Lake.

The tradition started in 2002 and this was the 21st raft race after missing some years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event took place yesterday at Needham Lake. Picture: Mecha Morton
The event took place yesterday at Needham Lake. Picture: Mecha Morton
Hundreds of people watched the races. Picture: Mecha Morton
Hundreds of people watched the races. Picture: Mecha Morton
The cooler weather did not stop participants making a splash. Picture: Mecha Morton
The cooler weather did not stop participants making a splash. Picture: Mecha Morton
The races kicked off at 2pm. Picture: Mecha Morton
The races kicked off at 2pm. Picture: Mecha Morton
This was the 21st raft race since it started in 2002. Picture: Mecha Morton
This was the 21st raft race since it started in 2002. Picture: Mecha Morton

This year’s theme was ‘circus’ which saw participants donning an array of eye-catching looks and outfits.

Jean Pittaway, chairman of the Needham Market Raft Race Committee, said: “The day went really well and it was great to see people clown around.

“The weather was a bit cooler so we were concerned people weren’t going to come out to watch the races – so we were pleasantly surprised by such a great turn out.

Everyone Active. Picture: Mecha Morton
Everyone Active. Picture: Mecha Morton
Town and Village. Picture: Mecha Morton
Town and Village. Picture: Mecha Morton
Clowning Around. Picture: Mecha Morton
Clowning Around. Picture: Mecha Morton
The Pinkspear. Picture: Mecha Morton
The Pinkspear. Picture: Mecha Morton
The Tuns were crowned the overall winners. Picture: Mecha Morton
The Tuns were crowned the overall winners. Picture: Mecha Morton

“The most exciting moment for me was the final race where the three finalists had a very close competition.

“It’s just a really wonderful day for the community here in Needham Market and it’s something we look forward to every year.”

Seven teams took part in the event including last year’s winners Under The Thumb who won The Tracey Cadman Challenge for fastest time trial.

Other teams included Everyone Active, Town and Village, Clowning Around, The Pink Spear and Cedrus House.

Winners of the Tracey Cadman Trophy - Under The Thumb. Picture: Mecha Morton
Winners of the Tracey Cadman Trophy - Under The Thumb. Picture: Mecha Morton
Winner of the slowest racers – Town and Village. Picture: Mecha Morton
Winner of the slowest racers – Town and Village. Picture: Mecha Morton
Middlings winners - Everyone Active. Picture: Mecha Morton
Middlings winners - Everyone Active. Picture: Mecha Morton
Needham Market raft race 2024 – overall winners, The Tuns. Picture: Mecha Morton
Needham Market raft race 2024 – overall winners, The Tuns. Picture: Mecha Morton

The team from the Three Tuns pub were raising funds for Mencap and were crowned this year’s overall champions after winning the final race – and they also won the prize for best fancy dress.

The Swan, in High Street, hosted The R’After Party from noon which offered pizza and a barbecue from the pub’s beer garden.