DOZENS of homemade rafts took to the River Wye  today, many manned by fearless fellows in fancy dress, and all greeted with a hail of eggs, flour bombs and water bombs from spectators atop a bridge.

It could only be the annual Monmouth Raft Race, a beguiling mix of the surreal and the serious, but all done in the name of charitable good causes.

The event has its roots back in the 1960s and is now organised by Monmouth Rotary Club.

The bulk of the proceeds will once again go to St David's Foundation Hospice Care as the event's chosen charity, but a number of charities supported by the Rotary Club will also benefit.

The race has only been called off twice, due to the foot and mouth disease epidemic in 2001, and the river being in flood in 2008.

There was no chance of it being called off this year, with the Wye full but serene, and 63 rafts took to the water from the steps of Monmouth Rowing Club.

Teams from businesses, pubs, and many other organisations from either side of the Wales-England border took to the water in their homemade rafts and following the good-natured barrage from spectators on the Wye Bridge shortly after the start, it was 6.5 miles of paddling downstream to the finish at Tump Farm, Whitebrook, where an entertainment-packed family festival was held.

A fundraising total has not been announced yet, but hopes are high that it will be something similar to, or better than, last year's £15,000.