Shropshire Star

Popular coracle event could go under without more volunteers and sponsorship to manage rising costs

One of the county's most entertaining and long-running events is under threat, according to organisers.

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Competitors at a previous coracle regatta. Photo: Dave Bagnall

The Ironbridge Coracle Regatta normally sees contestants going under as they struggle to pilot the quirky circular boats across the River Severn - but its organisers are warning the event itself could have to finish.

The organisers, the Trustees of the Ironbridge Coracle Trust, say that the event, which has been running every August bank holiday since 1881, faces a bleak future if they cannot get more volunteers, and sponsorship to cope with rising costs.

The regatta, held at the Ironbridge Rowing Club and Dale End Park, attracts coracle paddlers from all over the country who come to race the quirky boats on the Severn, providing a wonderful spectacle for the hundreds of spectators who prefer to stay dry on the bank.

The community event also includes food and stalls raising money to help preserve the heritage of the coracles.

The trust is a small charity run by seven local people and they have explained the pre-event organisation requires a lot of time and energy.

They have voiced concerns that if they cannot put together a small volunteer team specifically dedicated to the pre-event organisation, and find sponsors to help with the costs, then they will not be able to deliver the regatta anymore.

A spokesman said: "The regatta is an established community event in the Gorge. The £2,000 it costs us to put on the event every year is a big ask of such a small organisation.

"We are helped in delivering the event by a wonderful group of people, who give their time to keep this a free, fun event for the local community.

"We are extremely grateful for their support, but the trust need more help in the pre-event organisation and funding to cover some of the core costs such as toilets, first aid bins.

"Therefore, depending on the support that we receive, only then we will be able to decide if we can run the regatta this year and in the future."

The trustees are calling for potential new volunteers to attend a meeting that will be held at the New Coracle Shed at the Green Wood Centre, Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge at 7pm on March 14.

At the meeting they will explain what is needed and how people can help with the organisation of the event.

Interested sponsors can contact the trust directly to receive more information and learn more how they can support their work.

For information e-mail admin@ironbridgecoracles.