THE crowds went quackers for a duck race as Worcester Festival got underway.

Described as ‘the people’s festival’ by director Chris Jaeger, the show started with the duck race on Saturday to raise money for St Richard’s Hospice. Despite the unseasonable weather, the sun came out for the race at 2pm although the Worcester Riverside Arts Fayre had to be cancelled because of the gusty conditions.

Despite the weather the festival, which runs until August 26, has already broken three records – the most events ever (503), most different venues being used (52) and the highest number of different organisations staging events (41) in what has been billed as the ‘most varied Festival ever’.

Mayor of Worcester Allah Ditta said he was glad to be supporting the hospice, one of his charities.

He said: “There’s a perception that Worcester is a sleepy county city but it’s not. It’s really vibrant and thriving. I would absolutely encourage all citizens to come and enjoy the festival. There is something for everyone here.”

Fundraiser Claire James said she hoped the event would raise around £3,000 for the hospice which will go towards the care the hospice provides to 3,300 patients and their families and friends.

She thanked main sponsor Puddle Ducks and giant duck sponsors Fernhill House Care Home, Waldrons Solicitors, Browns at the Quay, LFW Windows, F W Spilsbury, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Cafe Viaduct, Keystones Cocktail Club, 1st Call 24/7 and Journey Hair Beauty and Aesthetics.

Thanks were also extended to Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service who deployed a boat crew to recover the ducks from the river.