Wargrave’s village librarian helped raise £8,824.51 for the RNLI by taking a giant duck on a tour of the River Thames.
Ros Fernley, who has worked for Wokingham Borough Council for more than a decade, and friend Timothy Dodd-Wilson set themselves the challenge with a 30-year-old homemade raft and cabin (also referred to as a shed), powered by a small engine.
They spent part of the last month towing the 14-foot-tall inflatable duck up and down the river to raise awareness and money for the charity. Timothy chose the RNLI because of the Penlee Lifeboat Disaster in 1981.
He was in the coastal Cornwall town when it happened. The tragedy saw sixteen people die when a lifeboat and its crew attempted to save the people on board a stranded boat during extreme weather. No-one on either vessel survived.
Ros, Timothy and ‘Big Duck’ (now known as Lily) began their journey in Wargrave, where Ros lives, on 15 June and went upstream to Lechlade before travelling back downstream to Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station.
By the time they completed their challenge, ‘Big Duck’ had been under 43 different bridges, including 23 where it had to be deflated to fit underneath.
As part of their tour of the Thames, the trio visited Henley Royal Regatta and Henley Festival, which both take place on the banks of the river at Remenham in the Wokingham Borough.
The amount raised includes £70 raised from a collection at Wargrave Library and supporters from Woodley Library.
“Big Duck has been a regular at both Henley Regatta and Festival for the past three years and it always gets a lot of attention.
This was a journey to make people smile and raise money at the same time,” Ros said. “Not many people would have seen a 14-foot-tall duck before so people always want to take pictures or stop to look!
“I just loved seeing how much people smiled when they saw ‘Big Duck’! If other boats saw us on the river the skipper would go below and three people would ‘pop up’ to take pictures.
“We’ve had so many donations and so many people offering kindness in terms of giving us lifts to get petrol as well as monetary donations, including my colleagues at the libraries.
"The kindness and generosity we have experienced has really restored my faith in people.
“Many riverside dwellers and river users are already big supporters of the RNLI and they have also been very generous with donations.
"It also feels fantastic to see the public so willing to support a great cause. All the money raised will go towards helping people across the country and keeping them safe on our inland waterways and at sea.”
Donations are still welcome, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bigducksbigadventure
To see photos from the adventure, visit https://www.instagram.com/tims_big_duck/