CROWDS went quackers for a duck race to a raise more than £1,300 for a Worcester hospice, blowing last year's grand total clean out of the water.

A big cheer went up from the crowds by South Parade and real ducks ducked for cover when their plastic counterparts were dropped off the Worcester Bridge into the Severn in one of the most popular opening events of the Worcester Festival today at 2pm.

People had the choice of a large duck for £5, a small duck for £3 or, if they really wanted to push the proverbial boat out, a fancy dress duck for £25.

The event, helped by sponsorship, raised £1,380 for St Richard's Hospice in the city's WIldwood Drive, shattering last year's total when the charity raised just over £800. In total St Richard's sold 139 large ducks, 145 small ducks and none of the fancy dress ducks,

The winners in the small duck category were the Hemming family of St Peter's, Worcester - Milly, seven, William, five and Edward, two. Their mum, Louisa Hemming, said: "They're very pleased." The family received £20 in High Street shopping vouchers. The winner in the large duck category was Susanne Black who will get £30 of vouchers.

Sarah Patrick, the event organiser and a fundraising assistant for St Richard's, said: "The weather has helped. A good sunny day makes a big difference. It is a lovely place for the children to come and play."

Also making a big difference was a giant yellow duck called 'Puddle', the mascot of event sponsors Puddle Ducks, a children's swimming group which runs sessions in Worcester, Malvern, Pershore and Evesham and further afield in the region. Puddle gave Percy the festival Peacock a run for his money in the popularity stakes, giving high fives to the children who had come to see the winning ducks fished out of the river by rescue boats crews who had donated their services free of charge.