Virus halts attempts to save Moat Boat Races

The Bishop of Bath and Wells allows the Boat Race to stage the event on the palace moat

Attempts to save this year’s Wells Moat Races have been halted because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“When we announced, at the beginning of the year, that the City of Wells Lions would no longer be organising the Moat Boat Races we offered our support and experience to any group or organisation willing to step in,” said Lions president Paul Clegg.

“We know this event is one of the top free family attractions in the calendar, so we have been keen to seek out interested parties.

“This event takes months of planning and with the uncertainty created by the coronavirus, affecting all public events this year, the decision has been taken to abandon attempts to stage the Moat Boat Races for 2020.”

The boat races first took place in the 1960s and after a couple of breaks have been staged each year since 2002 on August Bank Holiday Monday.

If there is anyone reading this who wishes to help keep the tradition of the Moat Boat Races going, please email Paul Clegg at

Flight Lieutenant John Blackburn, officer commanding the 1955 (City of Wells) Air Cadets said: “It was with a heavy heart that we, the Air Cadets, had to step back from the annual Moat Boat Races.”

“Our organisation does not have the resources to take the lead on such a large event, so have always assisted our friends at Wells Lions in the running of the event.

“Due to multiple issues, The Lions took the difficult decision to stand back from the event. Lacking the resources to carry on without them, the Air Cadets had to step away too.

“The event has always meant a lot to our cadets – a valuable team-building activity for both cadets and staff.

“Earlier this year, The Lions had managed to secure some much needed and valuable help to get the event paperwork and permissions in place for the 2020 event. We were more than happy to do our bit – which was to ensure that all the activities on the water were organised to the best of our abilities.

“We had even managed to secure a fly-past from one of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Spitfires.

“We hope the 2021 event will be able to go ahead, and as before, we would be happy to assist any organisation which steps up to head the event.” Wells Town Clerk Steve Luck said the city council are willing to offer help and advice with the administration for any organisation running the Boat Race, as this can be difficult for volunteer groups.