CHILDREN had fun messing about in boats as the first Upton Bell-Boat Regatta took place on the river Severn.

On Saturday (June 22) pupils, teachers, parents, governors and friends from schools in the Malvern and Upton districts took part in a series of fun but keenly-contested races.

The event also saw the official launch of a new bell boat, called the Spirit of Longdon and bought with funds remaining after the closure of Longdon St Mary’s CE Primary School.

Julie Wills, who was acting headteacher at Longdon when it closed and is now head at Upton Primary, said governors had agreed that the boat would be “a valuable asset for all the community and a permanent reminder of the happy days had by all those who attended the school”.

The boat will be kept in Upton and available to local schools for their pupils to enjoy bell-boating.

The regatta was organised by Andy Train, an ex- Olympic canoeist who is now a teacher in the Vale of Evesham.

Children from Upton, Great Malvern, Hanley Swan, Welland, Castlemorton, Callow End and Eldersfield Primary Schools took part, with teachers and parents also getting their turn in an open event. Races were held over a 200-metre course, made particularly challenging due to strong winds, with only a few seconds separating crews as they competed for places.

Mrs Wills said the school is already looking forward to planning next year’s regatta, when it hopes to involve even more local schools.

“It was such a positive day and everyone had a brilliant time,” she said.

“We are a school that is right on the river and everyone is very enthused for doing more things like this.”

Results – Year six: 1: Castlemorton (1 minute, 24 seconds); 2: Great Malvern (1:25); 3: Eldersfield (1:30) Year five: 1: Castlemorton (1:29); 2: Eldersfield (1:30); 3: Upton (1:38) Year four: 1: Hanley Swan (1:44); 2: Upton (1:44); 3: Combined crew (1:45) Open/parents race: 1: Upton (1:12); 2: Great Malvern (1:14); 3: Castlemorton (1:17).