- Monday, 02 September 2013 10:13
Jubilant boat builders Christine Dence, Richard Wood and Pete Hartshorn, who call themselves the Motley Bunch, continue to dominate the centrepiece of Derbyshire Dales District Council's annual Matlock Bath Illuminations.
And the colourful 'Longwei', a Chinese Dragon themed boat, earned the Motley Bunch from Matlock their fifth first prize in just seven years in the popular decorated boats competition.
Christine, Richard and Pete retain the Arkwright Cup, donated in 1903 by Sir Richard Arkwright, and the Centenary Cup, plus a cash prize of £270.
Their boat will be on show every weekend, along with nine others, in the unique parade of decorated boats that is rowed up and down the River Derwent during the Illuminations.
Second prize this year went to Ian Page from Cromford with his entry 'The Princess and the Water Snail Carriage', inspired by an Enid Blyton tale. He won the Plumtree Cup and £235.
In third place was 'Vanessa', a Derwent Monster, designed by Isabel Flavell from Matlock Bath. She won the Sheffield Wire Rope Cup and £205, followed by 'Smurfeel' in fourth, inspired by the Smurfs, which won designer Rory Harrison from Ashbourne the Dave Sanderson Trophy and £170.
Judges are selected at random from the opening night crowds and it's a friendly competition, with all none prize winners receiving £165.
Making up this year's Illuminations flotilla are 'Wonkatania' by David Harrison from Ashbourne, 'Penquin Fun' by David Gregory from Matlock, 'Interceptor on Call' by Matthew Hall from Ashbourne, 'Isabella Steam Lorry' by Michael Hall from Ashbourne, 'Bill & Ben the Flower Pot Men' by Robert Easton from Cromford, and 'The Royal Pram' by Paul Henshall from Matlock.
The boat Judges were Martin & Emilia Zubel from Derby, Terry & Teresa West from Stapenhill, and Ann & David Lane from Sutton in Ashfield.
The two grandchildren of judges Mr and Mrs West - Aailiyah and Rylan Haywood - assisted Chairman of the District of the Derbyshire Dales Councillor Peter Slack to push the switch in the Derwent Gardens bandstand to officially start the 2013 season.
The impressive opening night crowds cheered as the parade of boats took to the water, headed by a candle-lit model - put together by all the boat builders to show how models used to look when the tradition started over a century ago. This year's boat, featuring 85 night lights and rowed once again by George Holloway, was a tribute to the Dambusters.
The parade of illuminated boats takes place from 7.45pm every Saturday and Sunday evening until 26 October and can be viewed from Derwent Gardens. The Gardens and nearby Lovers' Walks are also bedecked with colourful lights.
Derbyshire Dales District Council Chairman Councillor Geoff Stevens, who has compered the Illuminations since the 1960s, said:
"Just when you think you've seen it all, the boat builders come up with something new and somehow manage to find ways of improving what has always been a spectacular display of decorated boats.
"The District Council is immensely proud to stage a unique family experience, which, if the weather is kind, should again draw in around 100,000 people this year, boosting tourism, trade and jobs locally."