THE cold weather did not stop hundreds of boats from across the UK race two thousand metres against the clock yesterday on the River Thames in Abingdon.

The Abingdon Spring Head of the River rowing competition was back this year and attracted more than 360 racing crews, bringing hundreds of visitors to the town.

Festival goers enjoyed a BBQ, local beer, tea, cakes and Morris dancing while they cheered on the rowers who raced from Abingdon’s Rye Farm Meadow past the Marina towards Culham weir.

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Hosted by the town’s rowing club, proceeds made at the festival are re-invested into facilities, equipment, coaching, rowing courses and supporting members to compete across the country.

Paul Wenman, from Abingdon Rowing Club who organised the event, said: "Despite the cold, we have had a lot of support. We're always proud of this event and it's one of the main ways to fund our rowing club so it's really important to us."

The majority of the club members and many of their family members volunteered a huge amount of time before, during and after the event to plan, set up, supervise and clear up.

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Michelle Charlesworth, 52, from North Abingdon, who said she was a spectator at the event, said: “It looked very well organised and attended with clubs coming from Reading, and Warwick to mention a few.

“There was a nice atmosphere and it was great to see Abingdon so busy. What with the WW2 Thames at war event at Abingdon lock, the rowing and a cycling event in the town. All activities encouraging people to get out and about and be active.”