COLOURFUL crafts of all shapes and sizes are set to take to the River Blackwater in Mallow on Easter Sunday to help raise vital funs for the Mallow Search and Rescue Unit.
Now in its 13th year, the annual Mallow River Raft Run is the unit's main annual fundraiser, attracting entrants from across the North Cork area for an afternoon of high jinks and frolicking on the water.
Last year's event, which was sponsored by Mallow based Barry Group, saw more than 80 craft take part ferrying almost 450 competitors along the traditional six-mile course from Mallow Bridge to Killavullen Bridge.
Together with the many hundreds of people who lined the route they helped raise more than €20,000 for the search and rescue unit.
The chairman of the unit, John Woulfe, said they are hoping that up to 100 craft will take place in this year's run on Sunday, Marc 31.
"It costs in the region of €40,000 to keep going each year. While we do get individual donations during the year, this event is by far our biggest fundraiser," said Mr Woulfe.
"The event has gotten bigger with each successive year and we are hoping that it will continue to grow again this year. The more people than take part, the more money that will be raised," he added.
The past two-years have been very busy for the unit, which received a massive boost in 2011 after it acquired a side scanning unit, the only one of its kind in private use in Ireland, thanks to a generous donation from the Brían O'Tuama Fund.
The fund was set up by the O'Tuama family, whose son Brian's body was recovered from the River Lee in 2001 by the Mallow unit following a tragic accident.
The side scanner has seen the unit travel all over the island of Ireland taking part in searches for missing people.
John said that as the unit has gotten busier, its running costs have also dramatically increased.
"The money we raise each year is spent on maintaining and upgrading equipment, training and ancillary costs such as fuel," said John.
"Without events such as the raft run we would find it difficult to meet these costs so I would appeal for as many people as possible to come along on Easter Sunday and enjoy the fun," he added.
Sponsorship cards for the event are now available at the Arches Bar in Mallow.