THE sight of 20,000 plastic ducks being tipped into the River Wear is fast becoming as seasonal as turkey and tinsel in Durham.
The annual duck race, organised by the Durham University Charities Kommittee (Duck), and sponsored by Northumbrian Water, traditionally heralds the start of Christmas festivities in the city.
The ducks were tipped by a mechanical digger from Elvet Bridge and floated downstream to Kingsgate Bridge.
Proceeds from the duck sponsorship go to help Northumbrian Water’s charity WaterAid, which provides clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene education in Africa and Asia, as well as to the Butterwick Hospice, the Mayor of Durham’s appeal and the Durham Christmas Lights.
Yesterday’s race, the fifth, was one of the slowest ever, according to Northumbrian Water spokesman Alistair Baker.
He said: “Because of the slow current, the ducks took three-quarters of an hour to reach their destination.
“People were getting cold watching them on the riverbank. But we would like to thank the Durham Kayak Club who were a great help.”
The winning duck, named Bodicea, earned its owner, Durham University student Stephanie Kendrick, £1,000.
Stephanie, who is studying French and Italian, is in her fourth year at the university.
She said: “A thousand pounds is quite a return for a £1 investment. I am absolutely thrilled.
“I will probably spend half on Christmas presents and save the other half.”