ONE of the biggest local paddle sports events in the country took place in Pershore as hundreds of people took to the waters for the town's Bell Boat Regatta.

More than 1,000 people took part in the annual event hosted by the Pershore Riverside Youth Centre on Saturday, June 28.

In the morning teams from the surrounding villages took part in the Wychavon Parish Games, and the afternoon saw the school's regatta.

The youth centre provided the refreshments and through selling tea, coffee and bacon rolls managed to raise in excess of £1,000 for the youth centre charity.

Alex Mellor, centre manager, said: "Over 1,000 people took part, making it probably the biggest grass roots participation paddle sports events in the UK."

The event garners great public attention and former Olympic canoeist Andy Train, from Fladbury, works with bell boaters throughout the year and the regatta provides a focus and an introduction into competition for them.

Mr Mellor added: "Andy's experience as an Olympic canoeist and ex world champion, coupled with his teaching skills and passion for the sport and helping young people makes the bell boat programme something special.

"Bell Boats were invented in Fladbury, by David Train, and are now used all around the world providing healthy outdoor activities, outdoor education and great fun for children and young people of any age."

Pershore Riverside Centre also runs bell boat and canoe activity days through the summer holidays for 9 to 13 year olds.

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