VALUABLE funds have been raised for junior footballers - thanks to the quacking efforts of a huge flock of ducks.

Spectators lined the riverbanks in Hurworth-on-Tees, near Darlington, today to watch 596 yellow rubber ducks float down the River Tees as part of the inaugural village duck race.

The contest was organised by Hurworth Parish Council and raised £1,161 for Hurworth Albion Junior Football Club.

Parish council chairman, Graham Wylie, said: “We’re very pleased with how well today has gone. It’s all for a great cause – Hurworth Albion does a fantastic job. The site where they play used to be a wasteland, but now it’s a fully-working football club for hundreds of young kids.”

The ducks, each costing a £2 donation, were launched from a canoe mid-stream by Hurworth resident Chris Williams, and floated 600 metres downriver to the finish line, which was located near the Emerson Arms pub.

There, they were scooped up in nets by volunteers from the parish council and football club, some of them waist-deep in the river.

The winning duck was number 327, representing Lee Heseltine. BBC Radio Tees breakfast presenters Neil Green and Amy Oakden took a close second with number 468, and third place went to Chris Kennedy with number 117.

Graham added: “I want to thank everyone who helped us do this, especially Martin Harrison and the lads from Hurworth Albion, who were instrumental in catching the ducks, and Chris Williams for kindly launching the ducks from his canoe.”

Lorraine Tostevin, Hurworth's borough councillor, said: “It’s wonderful to see so many families out supporting the duck race in aid of Hurworth Albion. Well done to all the organisers, especially those who went into the river to stop the ducks escaping down to Neasham!”