Once again the Chester Raft Race returned to the banks of the river dee for the 47th time with a Toybox theme, with special thanks to our event sponsor Salt Town Contractors. Raising over £500,000 over its lifetime to support local and national charities, the event supported the North West Air Ambulance service and Young Lives vs Cancer, as well as indirectly raising money for charities as the rafts will also raise their own funds. Rafts like Kangaroo Storage mystery machine used the event to raise money for Maggies and Raft Race alumni Alan Sprostons Ltd were supporting Christies.

Chester Round Table brought the event back from previous custodians Chester Rotary in 2020 and one of the main focuses has been to reward the rafts that invest in the theme and to also bring a Party to the Chester Meadows. It was great to see despite the constant threat of rain, both targets were certainly achieved with a vibrant atmosphere with special thanks to the vendors and entertainment on offer. For the latter there were some amazingly crafted rafts with teams also embracing the spirit of the Toybox theme, knowing that 30% of the score gained is for theme.

At 6am on Sunday the hard work starts to get the field ready for 23 rafts in this years race to descend upon the Chester Meadows, with the field starting to fill up at 10am with rafts, entrants, vendors, volunteers and spectators the meadows is truly a great space to see all the rafts in their glory. The People’s Choice Winner by The Old Harkers Arms could not be missed with its big red machine, the firetruck with its ladder, flashing lights and smoke, was first on the water and it was another fine effort from our Hall of Fame champions and previous winner of the Best Theme. As well as being the Peoples Champions this year, the team added another Fastest Hostelry Award to their trophy haul for being the fastest pub on the river, beating Hickorys Smokehouse taking second place.

In the river with Harkers were our river safety and teams, special shout out to Chester Sub Aqua Club, Wrexham Sub Aqua Club and our starter boat crew Chris Edwards and Chester legend Gordon Vickers. (Thanks to Graeme Thomas for sharing this picture).

With the rest of the boats loaded into the river they started to make their way down under the Queens bridge adorned with the Salt town Contractors logo towards the packed Chester Groves past event sponsor Snugburys, the bandstand and over the finish line.

Waved over the line by event commentator Ian Gibbons joined by the Mayor of Chester Cllr Razia Daniels, MP Samantha Dixon, our Event photographers Steph Lou Photography, Chester Round Tabler Tom Jennings and Chester Grosvenor Knights 41 Club member David Smith.

The fastest to complete this trip was the incredible Toy Story themed raft by last years Overall WinnerThe Pigeons of Madagascar. The huge Toy Story themed Jack in a Box stood out for sure, sporting pedals and giant water wheel in the middle of the raft placed it the Innovation category but sadly excluded them from retaining the Overall trophy, as non-paddle power equals exclusion. They also relinquished the Fastest Raft trophy to Tata Steel Deeside for the same reason.

Pigeons and Harkers shared the Best Theme raft in 2023 but were again joint but this time only joint second. Merseyside Ship Stores on their Chester Raft Race debut took home this years Best Themed raft with their Mario Kart entry, complete with individual karts and character costumes and giant Bullet Bill.

The Titanic Ultimate Sinkers award was once again picked up by perennial champions the Sprostons. An award collected by Birthday boy Mr Alan Sproston, the wonderful picture shows that not every raft is there to win the best theme award but look at that smile. Clearly just as much fun was to be found on that raft.

Greenest Raft went to Peacock Garage for recycling their 2018 raft which you may remember from making the news at the time and certainly had some striking pictures of some certain individual World Leaders. The raft with working water cannon was certainly another standout on the river, it was great to see it back.

We couldn’t recycle as much as we do at each event without our recycling partners ASH Waste Group, who’s support for the event is so important into keeping the event as clean as we possibly we can.

This year we had our first inter-Round Table Raft Race. Wrexham, Deeside and Mold & Buckley competed for the inaugural Round Table Raft Race trophy and the Area 36 bragging rights. That fell to Mold & Buckley for being the fastest on the river finishing ahead of Deeside with Wrexham in 3rd place. If you sampled the amazing Hog Roast on the meadows then you certainly went to see M&B round table, thanks to Col for bringing that delicious food option the Meadows.

BOST Musicals who entered 2 rafts once again an incredible Star Wars raft complete with mini R2D2 and a fabulous Annie themed raft to promote their show at the Liverpool empire. The ladies dressed as Annie were the Fastest Ladies Only raft finishing ahead of first time entrants Maple Grove School on their Barbie themed raft.

The Big One, the Overall Trophy was contested by Tata Steel Deeside and GFL scaffolding, both returning from previous years events. The overall champions GFL SCAFFOLDING was crowned with some very enthusiastic celebrations as “GFL, GFL, GFL” and choruses of “Champione, Ole, Ole” rang loud around the meadows. Congratulations to our 2024 champions – GFL.

The #PartyAtTheMeadows continued as the weather held with a raffle & an auction to raise funds for the event charities. Party games were availbe such as Jenga, Cocount shy, Play Your Cards Right with huge thank you from Chester Raft Race to our sister organisation Chester Ladies Circle for their support before, during and after event to bring this party.

There was also the giant inflatable course provided by Big Bouncy Castle Hire to keep the kids of all ages distracted. Glitterbugz had everyone reflecting what sun eeked out on the day with the glittery face decorations and brought a bit of glamour to the field.

Stalls from the Air Cadets were teaching people about first aid and safety working close to our Ambulance and Fire safety crew. Those speaking to the safety crew were also able to get inside the fire engine, turn on the sirens and also blast a fire hose across the meadows. Thankfully not towards the crowd!

In the above picture we can see Amy Law donating a picture of Jay St John for auction. Jay was the Flyboarder that used to be seen on the River Dee at the Chester Raft Race, who’s acrobatic skills would wow those before the race and he would bring a lot of fun for the rafters whizzing around them and soaking them if he got too close. The picture was kindly sold for £60 donating to both event charities and will now be a part of Raft Race history to be taken away. Thank you to Amy for attending the event, it was an honour for us to remember Jet Pack Jay!

There was pizza by StoneBaked With Love, specialist coffees/lattes and milkshakes by Fursty Fox, hog roast by Mold and Buckley Table, cocktails by Mrs Sippy, ice cream by Joshua Baines, ales and beers from Old Harkers Arms and more to keep the party flowing on the meadows.

Live music from Stephen Lockhart, Chester City Brass Band and the Mersey Morris Dancers helped make this day into a great event and kept the vibe going late into the afternoon.

Sadly the day drew to the close as everyone left ready to carry the party into the evening with England vs Slovakia yet to come. Thankfully the Raft Race was as equally as successful but a little more entertaining. That left the stage and the stalls on the meadows ready to be torn down, cleaned up and litter picked.

A few beer were shared with one eye already looking to next years event. We certainly hope you and many more will join us at future events. We’d love to see old and new faces, with a new theme, new charities and hopefully some sun.

Ranked in overall order. *Ladies Runners up was entered in the “Overall” category.

The event could not have happened without the help of many partners who made this event, a huge thank you too everyone who has helped make this event a success we could not do this without you.

Unless stated otherwise photo’s were taken by Chester Raft Race 2024 StephiLou Photography
Hi-res photos are available for purchase and include a donation to the event charities.

Thank you to Salt Town Contractors ltd, Snugburys, Swizzels, ASH Waste, Chester Ladies Circle, The Old Harkers Arms, Chester Grosvenor Knights 41 Club, Mold and Buckley Round Table, Delice Designs, Ian Gibbons, Queens Park High School, Gordon Vickers, RNLI, Stephanie Lou Photogrpahy, A1 Scaffolding, The DBC Group, Hargreaves and Wood, 4th Heswall Sea Scouts, Wrexham Seals Sub Aqua Club, Chester SAC, CPSG-UK Ltd, BSB Sound, BSAC, Powsey Lane fire and Rescue, The Perfume Shop, Gift Company, Fursty Fox, Mrs Sippy, Samantha Dixon, Mayor Razia Daniels, Julian Charles Home, Clarendon Fine Art, The Web Hound, Glitterbugz, Layers Dessert, Stephen Lockhart, Big Bouncy Castle Hire, Chester Model Centre, My T Print & Embroidery, Trialout Haulage, StoneBaked With Love, Joshua Baines Cheshire West and Chester Council and everyone who participated with us and supported us on the day,