THERE were rocks, rapids and even Royalty, as the King and Queen turned out for Monmouth’s 56th Raft Race on Sunday on board a floating royal carriage!

Charles and Camilla enjoy a ride down the Wye on their royal carriage
Charles and Camilla enjoy a ride down the Wye on their royal carriage (Oarstruck Photography)

Charles and Camilla may have been cardboard cut outs peering through the windows, but they helped make it a right royal progress down the Wye in beautiful sunshine, alongside a Peter Pan crocodile, Bananas in Pyjamas, a ‘Drink Up Thy Cider’ pub shack and even a tribute to the humble loo - named the Thomas Crapper!

Some got stuck on the rocks, one coming to grief just below Monmouth’s Wye Bridge.

Up a creek without a paddle!

But 42 of the nearly 50 starters at the town rowing club made it to the line 6.5 miles downriver at Whitebrook in the Rotary-organised annual event.

Henson’s Heroes from Chepstow - a family and friends affair who have done the race for 16 years - won the most creative raft for the eighth-year running for their Peter Pan croc, following on from such creative marvels as a WWI tank, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, a London bus and the HMS Victory.

They were also best charity fundraisers with £2,800 and are close to having raised £20,000 in total to thank main race beneficiary St David’s Hospice, where the father of ship’s skipper ‘Captain Hook’ was treated.

“It’s really good fun, getting together and building the raft and then paddling it, especially on such a beautiful day,” said Neil Henson, who was joined on board by sister Lisa (Tiger Lily), her daughters Fiona (Tinkerbell) and Jess (Wendy), Marcus Lewis (Pete Pan) and his dad Clive (Smee), plus Craig Gardner, Rosie Vincent and Gavin Shaw.

“And most of all, it’s a great way to say thank you to St David’s.”

Peter Pan and the crocodile raft on their way with other rafts

Fastest raft was The Siltanator of Monmouth-based firm Siltbuster, who cruised home in 54 minutes 53 seconds.

Wye Warriors were second and fastest women’s crew in 1.05.34, followed by CU Lightening 14 seconds back who won the mixed prize.

Drink Up Thy Cider heads the pack on the rapids

See the Monmouth Raft Race Facebook page for more details.