Design Inc were very proud to have established and sponsored the Best Design Duck award for the annual Big Duck Race at Staines-upon-Thames Day. The annual festivities celebrate the town of Staines-upon-Thames and its position on a beautiful stretch of the river Thames. The day is host to a big party at several locations throughout the town centre and riverside, featuring bands, dance troupes, rowing races, a funfair, trampolines, beer tents, food trucks, face painting and hundreds of stalls from the local community.
One of the main attractions of the day is The Big Duck Race – a flagship event run by Mike Wylie from local charity, MidasPlus. These large ducks are purchased and designed by local businesses & organisations with all profits used by MidasPlus to benefit individuals in the locality. It has been a great sight to see many coloured ducks race down the River Colne and into the Thames with the finishing line at the Memorial Gardens close to Staines Bridge.
Until recently, only the winner of the race was awarded a prize. That is until Frank Norman of Staines-based creative agency, Design Inc recognised that the great design work should also be rewarded and celebrated. Frank met with Mike Wylie and together, they devised the additional Best Design Duck award. With Design Inc sponsoring the award and promoting the event alongside MidasPlus, the aim was to further encourage the creativity of the local businesses. And the businesses certainly didn’t disappoint!
On Sunday 25th June, prior to the duck race, all designed ducks were gather together at Church Street, Staines for all to see and admire. Almost 200 fantastically-designed ducks were presented. Some were painstakingly painted and sign written (with acrylic or waterproof paints, of course), others featured jewellery and sequins and buttons, feathers and clothing, make up, hair, sunglasses, wings and sails – there was no end of creative ideas. Some were dressed up in uniforms, others as dinosaurs. There was a Dolly Parton duck, an Elvis duck even a Ronald McDonald duck amongst the contenders.
There would be cash prizes for the three best designed ducks. But, with some many fantastic entries it was always going to be difficult to select the winners. The judges and those with the uneviable task of making the selection were: Cllr Denise Saliagopoulos – Mayor of Spelthorne Frank Norman – Director, Design Inc Mike Wylie – Trustee, MidasPlus
After shortlisting the top 20, the task was to whittle them down to six and then to make the final selection. We are pleased to announce the winners;
Frank Norman comments: “Staines-upon-Thames Day is a great celebration and for Design Inc to be involved with the Big Duck Race is a no-brainer. I was very impressed with all the creative entrants to the race and so glad we created this extra reward as an incentive for local businesses to get their design juices flowing. Design Inc has been based in this great town for over 25 years. And to see so many companies getting behind the Big Duck Race is a pleasure to see. I look forward to us supporting it again next year. For now, I would like to give big congratulations to MidasPlus for organising the race, to the three winners and to all those companies who took part.”
Mike Wylie comments: “This is MidasPlus’ flagship event, as well as raising funds, it also raises awareness in the community of how we help local needy people. Of course, it’s also about winning the prize for the best decorated duck and about winning the race! The event is aimed at local businesses. We invite them to buy a duck, to be innovative and to have fun decorating it and for larger companies to buy a flock of ducks, maybe run a internal competition or a team building exercise. We aim to secure as much local and social media publicity for our entrants as we possibly can. I am proud to have 100s of wonderfully decorated ducks on display at the start and competing in the race. It’s quite a spectacle!”
A week after the race, we sent Frank along to meet with the winner, Staines Community Centre and the member who was responsible for the duck design. Here is his report…
As soon as I walked through the doors of Staines Community Centre, I was greeted with a warm smile by Centre Manager, Monika Oliver who quickly introduced me to star of the show, Diane Clarke. Diane was responsible for the design and decoration of the duck with a little help from assistant manager, Carol Clark. Diane is a spritely and bubbly 85 yr old with a passion for all things creative. Whether it is painting, drawing, needlecraft or, her specialism – beading, she has a talent for all. She was thrilled to have learnt that her duck had won Best Designed Duck and proceeded to tell me all about each pattern and sequin added to the duck’s design. She told me that each wing required six coats of paint, that there exactly 100 sequins added to the beak and that, the duck’s hat was made specifically for the event, having taken inspiration from her own xmas placemats she made last year. She had gathered hundreds of coloured beads and set about creating a beaded hat with a fantastic pattern that would immediately catch the judges’ eye. In total, it took her a week to complete. Diane is an expert at her craft but she would be the last one to tell you that. Wearing one of her home made, beaded scarves, she was more keen to tell me about the community centre and what it meant to her.
“I would be lost without it,” she tells me, “‘I come most days for my lunch and everyone is so friendly. I only found out about it three years ago despite walking past it many times. The food here is fantastic and very good value but I come here for more than that. I come for the knitting group and the art classes and the floor bowls too. There is so much to do.”
Monika comes and joins us as does Mike Wylie from charity, Midas Plus who run the Duck Race and we chat more about the winning duck as well as the centre’s contribution to the local community – there is so much to learn: they provide so many courses & classes, arrange regular trips to the coast, provide lunches, run a coffee shop and even have a chiropodist and hairdresser on the premises. The rooms upstairs can even be hired out for private functions. Monika is obviously very busy managing it all but she absolutely loves what she does. And it shows.
Mike leans forward. He has something to hand to Monika. It is a cheque for £250 – the prize for winning first place in the Best Designed Duck competition. “That will go to very good use”, Monika tells me, “we are looking to set up a new art class and this will help pay for the trainer, equipment and resources.” A very fitting use of the money, I think.
Close-up of beading on the duck’s hat
Frank Norman, Diane Clarke, Mike Wylie and Monika Oliver