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Report: Annual dragon boat races create a splash on the Thames

Hundreds of people gathered along the banks of the River Thames in Reading today to watch the annual Dragon Boat Race.

The charity event which is organised by the Lions Club sees teams from the local community go head to head - or rather paddle to paddle - in a series of heats to be crowned the champions.

Mel Bloor reports.

Mel spoke to Andrew Young from Reading Lions Club, Claire Rhodes from the Daisy's Dream charity, Jason McMahon from Launchpad and John Galt from the Dragon Boat Association.

Police refer themselves to IPCC over drowned teenager

Ellis Downes died after experiencing difficulties while swmming in the River Thames

The Thames Valley Police force has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission regarding the way it carried out the recovery operation to find a teenager who went missing in the River Thames.

Ellis Downes, 16, was last seen swimming in the River Thames at Culham on the night of Saturday 7th May. The area between Abingdon Lock and Culham Lock was closed for the search operation to take place.

Ellis' family were critical of the way the police handled the recovery operation. The teenager's body was found by a private team of divers on Monday night.

The River Thames near where Ellis was found

“I can confirm that Thames Valley Police have referred themselves to the IPCC with respect to the handling of the search for Ellis. We are aware of the family and community concerns around our actions following this tragic incident and the referral was made this morning (11/5). I expect the IPCC to respond with a decision on how the IPCC wishes the investigation to be managed.”

– Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Ross, Thames Valley Police

It's official: public vote choses name for Reading bridge

The new crossing in Caversham opened in September 2015

A name has been chosen for Reading's new pedestrian and cycle bridge following a public vote.

The shortlist included four potential names:

  • Christchurch Bridge
  • Cusden Bridge
  • De Montfort Bridge
  • William Marshal Bridge
Local residents started using the structure as soon as it was opened

The consultation ended at 5pm today, and by popular vote the crossing at Caversham which opened last September will now be called 'Christchurch Bridge'. The crossing over the River Thames links the Christchurch Meadows park to the town centre and Reading railway station.

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Grieving family of Kent woman call for life-jackets on speedboats

The family of a woman from Kent killed during a boating accident on the Thames have spoken of their shock.

Charli Brown from Welling died after she was thrown out of a speedboat. The 24 year old was on a first date with a man she'd met online.

Charli's family say she wasn't wearing a lifejacket, and they're now calling for the law to be changed. Malcolm Shaw heard from Charli's sister Katie Brown.

Woman found clinging to a life ring rescued from River Thames

A woman found clinging desperately onto a life ring in the River Thames has been rescued.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service say the woman was 'cold and disorientated' when they found her.

They were called to help the woman yesterday morning, who had fallen in near Thames Street in Oxford shortly before.

An ambulance took her to John Radcliffe Hospital for checks, while boats and helicopters continued to search for a man who was also thought to be missing. He was later found safe and well.

The woman was very cold and disorientated when we found her. The life ring had offered her some support until a full rescue could take place.

– Gary Dawson, Watch Manager

Flood warning in Twyford following yesterday's rainfall

A flood alert has been issued by the Environment Agency, warning people of possible flooding for the Lower River Loddon at the River Thames confluence including Twyford, Charvil and Wargrave.

Levels are expected to continue to rise today and flooding of low lying land and roads is expected this afternoon, especially in the Twyford area.

Local residents are urged to follow these safety tips:

  • Be prepared to protect yourself, family, pets and property.
  • Call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for up-to-date flooding information.
  • Keep an eye on local water levels and weather conditions.
  • Visit the Environment Agency website for river level and flooding information.
  • Tune into weather, news and travel bulletins on local television and radio.
  • Avoid walking, cycling or driving through flood water.
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