Wet ‘n wild in Town Centre

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HUNDREDS of Wiganers snapped up a ticket to slide on a giant water chute through to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Riders plunged head first down Standishgate along the 110m-long course from the Grand Arcade to the finishing zone just before the junction with Market Street.

The water slide in Wigan at the weekend

The water slide in Wigan at the weekend

The event, which is believed to have brought in almost £10,000 for Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH), saw large crowds line the downhill chute to watch sliders race each other in two lanes on Saturday afternoon.

Participants on Sunday faced a rather different course as local firefighters, equipped with three powerful hoses, turned the lane of hay bales, foam matting and plastic sheeting into a white-water super soaker which left riders equally drenched and exhilarated.

The Hindley-based hospice sold around 900 tickets for the event, with young and old alike lining up alongside Leigh Centurions player Bob Beswick, teams from the borough’s businesses and fancy dress riders sliding down the street in an assortment of outfits ranging from giant dogs and gorillas to characters from the popular Where’s Wally? books.

Some of the riders also took part for more personal reasons, sliding in memory of patients who were cared for at WLH’s headquarters on Kildare Street.

Among those were Springfield youngsters Daniel Frost, aged nine, and his 11-year-old cousin Sam Birch, who went down the slide on Sunday in memory of their uncle Gerard Frost and grandad Bill Dempsey wearing specially-made t-shirts with both their names on them.

Daniel’s mum Claire Frost, 30, said: “They both absolutely loved it. It’s a really good idea and it’s lovely that the hospice has got so many kids involved because often charity events are things like running or skydiving which are much more for adults.

“The hospice has really supported our family because the losses have hit the children hard. They gave them books and spoke to their schools, which really helped.”

Many of the hospice’s army of volunteers gave up their weekends to help, with particular credit going to long-standing helper Geoff Swift from Shevington who spent hours on Saturday attaching strings to the lilos and sprinting down Standishgate to help sliders struggling to maintain their momentum gain enough speed.

Farmers across the borough donated hay bales to build the course, while the Royal Navy Cadets also helped out in the role of slide stewards.

The event came to Wigan after WLH fund-raising and lottery manager Maxine Armstrong saw television coverage of a similar event in Bristol and decided it would be a perfect addition to the borough’s fund-raising calendar.

Maxine said: “It was a great weekend and it’s going to bring in towards £10,000 for the hospice.

“It was our first event and we’ve learned a lot which will ensure it is better and quicker next time. We’re definitely looking to run the slide again.

“We’d like to thank everyone who donated items for the course, the shops in Wigan for putting up with us and all the volunteers who helped out as well as the sliders who came to support us.”