Racing ducks to aid Sheffield dam’s revival

Crowds line the banks for the duck race in Endcliffe Park
Crowds line the banks for the duck race in Endcliffe Park
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Volunteers raising funds for the restoration of Forge Dam in Sheffield are hoping to have collected £100,000 by the end of Easter – with help from thousands of plastic ducks.

The annual Duck Race returns to Endcliffe Park for its eighth run on Monday when, as usual, 2,500 yellow ducks will be making a dash for the finish line along the Porter Brook.

The event traditionally draws a crowd and, in 2015, over £10,000 was raised by the Friends of the Porter Valley.

There have been some changes for 2016 – more stalls will be selling gifts and treats, and for the first time a climbing tower is being set up for visitors to scale.

Ann Le Sage, chairman of the friends group, said the race has also been adjusted slightly.

“We’re setting up the finishing line about 50 yards down from the previous ones – it gives a chance for people to be on the bank to see the ducks run further and catch them more easily,” she explained.

“It’s always been a fast-moving, frenetic situation.”

Originally, proceeds from the race went towards the restoration of Shepherd Wheel, which is now in operation every weekend. The current major project is desilting and improving Forge Dam, for which £360,000 is required.

Ann said specialists had carefully tested the silt, and found it needed ‘quite a complicated process’ to remove.

“It’s not an easy project. A lot of questions need to be resolved.”

In three years £90,000 has been raised – another £10,000 would take the funds to £100,000. Ann said potential donors are in the wings, but lottery money has not yet been applied for.

“You need to prove you have a sustainable solution and the technical details have to be there.”

But the landscape work already carried out at Forge Dam has made a big difference, she added: “It looks very much better than it did four years ago.”

n Activities start at 10am and the race begins at 2pm. Visit www.fopv.org.uk for details.