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A record number of people attended a revived traditional boat event on the Thames.

The attendance of around 10,000 at the Thames Traditonal Boat Festival at Henley was twice the number of the previous rally two years ago - and the highest since that event was established.

It marks a remarkable turn-around for the boating event which was cancelled last year after the floods and it is less than a year since it was in danger of disappearing from the river calendar altogether.

Chairman John Skuse said: "Our aim was a bigger, better event with wide appeal to the whole family and we think we achieved it. We were helped by the weather but also by the immense enthusiasm and hard work of new volunteers.

"The feedback has been very, very positive and we plan an even better festival next year. It really should take its place right alongside Henley Royal Regatta and Henley Festival as one of the major events of the summer."

Lady Judy McAlpine, Festival President, said: "“Having watched the [former] rally slowly dying, this weekend was pure joy. When you organise an event you are always fearful that it will not come up to your very own high expectations, or that the public won’t come.

"As it was the public came in their thousands and the atmosphere was phenomenal. All our hard work was rewarded by happy smiling faces, glorious boats and sunshine. As a committee, all our dreams came true. We are already planning next year’s even more amazing event."

On the water the Queen's Row Barge Gloriana and a restored World War II motor torpedo boat were among more than 200 boats on show.

One of the few disappointments was engine trouble which meant an appearance by Sir Malcolm Campbell's world speed record-breaking Bluebird K3 had to be abandoned. It went on show on land instead.

On the riverbank the number of trade stands was increased, catering improved and more attractions for the family introduced. Next year's event has already been fixed for July 16th and 17th.

Mike Phillips, who with marketing manager Robin Ford organised a 'Save the Rally' meeting in the winter said: "Back then we were delighted beyond measure when 22 volunteers came forward to make up the new rally committee. Since then a remarkable and multi-talented group of people have created a whole new experience."

 

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