EXCITEMENT will reach river pitch for children and adults alike as 350 rubber ducklings fight it downstream to the finish line at Wroughton’s annual duck race next month.

The quirky event, which has raised thousands of pounds for local youth groups and children’s charities over the last 17 years, will see the toys released into the water at three different races on Monday, May 5.

The Abigail Taylor-Silk Race – named in memory of a young villager who lost her battle with cancer – will kick off the festivities at 2pm. Children who sponsored one of the 350 ducks will cheer the contestants on as they make their way to the finish line at Willow Brook Garden.

It will be followed at 3pm by the adult round, or Mike Smith Memorial Race, named after the event’s founder.

Finally at 3.30pm, decoy ducks hand painted by village businesses will be unleashed for the third race. The best decorated duck will receive an award.

Hazel Hodd, one of the main organisers, said the challenge was ultimately a fun way to raise funds for Wroughton’s young generation.

“The ducks are in training at the moment and on a strict diet ready to go down the stream,” she said. “We are working with Vision4Wroughton on this and we have got six dustbins full of yellow ducks that we will tip into the river by the Wroughton Moat. They cost £1 to sponsor.

“We also have 20 decoy ducks, which are life-size ducks, for the third race. Businesses pay £25 for them and decorate them. Last year a butcher’s decorated theirs as a cow and we had one with a Barbie doll on its back as a jockey.

“It’s really fun and it’s for local children’s groups. The groups write in and apply for some money. We raised £700 last year with only seven big ducks and since we have sold 17 this year so we are hoping to get more.”

Although the races will be strictly monitored for potential cheating, organisers are expected to turn a blind eye as residents wade in, giving the ducks a bit of a jolt around difficult corners.

l To sponsor a duck call councillor Paul Hurst or Hazel Hodd on 01793 813985.