Monmouth Raft Race 2020 may be cancelled but here’s a look at past events

AUGUST is usually a month when crews are putting the finishing touches to their rafts in preparation for the annual Monmouth Raft Race, which for more than 50 years has been held on the first Sunday of September.

But this year the event, like so many others, is cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The keen rafters will have to wait until September 2021 until they are able to launch their craft at Monmouth Rowing Club and paddle the six-and-a-half miles down the River Wye to Tump Farm at Whitebrook.

Heading for the Wye Bridge in Monmouth in 2005

The raft race was founded by the Abergavenny Young Conservatives and run for many years run by the Monmouth Conservative Association. In 2003 organisation of the race was taken over by the Rotary Club of Monmouth.

The original idea was to hold the race on the River Usk but it was decided it was too dangerous a river for an event of this nature.

The first race was held on the River Monnow, starting at the Bell at Skenfrith and finishing in Monmouth.

And they’re off for the 1990 Monmouth Raft Race

The 1966 race was moved to the River Wye with the start near Symonds Yat and finish in Monmouth.

The following year the race eventually moved to its present start and finish points.

Henson’s Heroes in 2014.

Over the years the event has raised thousands of pounds for charities including the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the RNLI, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and St David’s Hospice Care, which for the last few years has been the main beneficiary of this popular event.

This year will be only the third time the race has not gone ahead. In 2001 the foot and mouth epidemic saw it cancelled and then again in 2008 it was called off when the river was in flood.

Yacht’s Your Story at Monmouth Raft Race 2019 crewed by South Wales Argus reporter Dan Barnes and friends. Picture: David Barnes

Monmouth Rotary Club organises the event with marketing help from St David’s Hospice Care, and the entry fees and car parking charges pay organisations such as the Scouts, Guides, RNLI, Monmouth Festival Committee, Rowing and Canoe and Clubs, St John’s Ambulance, Ross Rotary Club and the Severn Area Rescue Association for helping, with any surplus being added to Rotary funds for its local charitable commitments.

The last 15 Raft Race events have raised a total of £329,181; £21,343 of which was raised in 2019.