Rain Didn't Dampen Spirits At Aquafest

I WALKED down to Aquafest on Sunday morning in brilliant sunshine and when I walked home again six hours later, it was with the sun beating down on my head, but as anyone who attended the event will know, it rained for most of the day. The biggest downpou

I WALKED down to Aquafest on Sunday morning in brilliant sunshine and when I walked home again six hours later, it was with the sun beating down on my head, but as anyone who attended the event will know, it rained for most of the day. The biggest downpour of all came just minutes before the start of the raft race.

So, did the rain keep the crowds away or dampen the spirits of those who organised or attended the event? No, not for one minute. Aquafest is organised by the city's two rotary clubs and these people could organise Glastonbury before lunchtime and a Wimbledon final in time for tea. Military precision is backed up with bags of enthusiasm and community spirit and the result - a fantastically well organised event with lots to do and see and a seemingly effortless performance by all concerned.

I have taken part in the raft race a couple of times, and I really didn't envy the teams (the Ely Standard included) as they made their way down to the start, but I was amazed to see that everyone was still splashing about in the water and having fun despite the wind chill and the downpour. Ely Standard reporter Catherine Atkinson even swam the length of the course afterwards, "just for fun" she told us!

Helen Drake was out and about with her camera and I was in charge of the video camera, which would have been a bit disastourous as my lens kept getting wet, were it not for the kindness of two people from the Lazy Otter who invited me onto their boat to keep me and the video camera dry.


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As I walked back to Jubilee Gardens, I just couldn't believe how many people were lining the river bank and cheering the teams on. I said 'hello' to Karen Roberts from CLIC Sargent who was running a stall in Jubilee Gardens and then I saw Ely town crier Avril Hayter-Smith, and her husband Graham, who gave me some sound advice on keeping bonsai trees. Then I bumped into Mark Peters, breakfast presenter on Star Radio, and he showed me his new born daughter, who looked beautiful in her summer bonnet. Ted Coney came and had a chat and was bursting with enthusiasm for his plans to safeguard the future of the arts in Ely.

As I walked back home, thinking what a shame that I had probably missed the Men's Tennis Final!) it struck me that the thing that makes Ely is so special is its community spirit. It is akin to the kind of enthusiasm and closeness that you experience when you live in a village. I do think that people are right to stand up and fight for all the things that make a place special and unique. Otherwise, Ely will just become another faceless clone town.

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If you have five minutes and fancy a laugh, go to our website at www.elystandard24.co.uk and click on the You Must Be Joking strip on the front page of the site. You can see and hear lots of people telling jokes. Some are funny and some will make you groan, but hopefully bring a smile too. You can also see me telling a classic Tommy Cooper joke very badly because I am laughing so much that I almost fall off my chair. Hope it makes you laugh.

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