ALMOST 200 competitors paddled across Goldsworth Park Lake and raised in excess of £10,000 – so far – for Woking & Sam Beare Hospices in their inaugural Dragon Boat Challenge.
On Sunday 11 teams representing local police, schools, churches and businesses went up against each other in colourful longboats, and the plentiful sunshine and local support meant the day was a roaring success.
Team Rockin’ Dave member, Natalie Dilloway, said: “I’ve never done Dragon Boat racing before and have always thought it looks like great fun. So after completing the London Marathon this seemed like a great next challenge, especially as it meant I could rope in another 19 people, and with a barbeque and a beer tent at the event it wasn’t too hard convincing friends and family to join in.”
Natalie’s father, after whom the team was named, was admitted to the hospice in 2011, so this was her way of thanking the staff for the wonderful care they afforded him. “They made a truly horrendous time a bit more bearable, and for that my family will always be grateful. We are committed to raising as much money as possible by way of a thank you, and to help others.”
True to tradition, the event started with an ‘awakening’ ceremony for good luck, at which the Hospices’ Finance Director, Tony Cornwell, dotted the eyes of the Dragon Boats, and members of the Chinese School of Woking performed a colourful Lion Dance.
The teams then took to the water and raced each other against the clock. The winner was the Mayford Arms Team, closely followed by the Rockin’ Dave crew. In third place were the police team, who also won the fancy-dress competition (judges obviously didn’t know constables really wear silly hats) and were awarded a dragon-boat cake.
“It was a wonderful day and I thank all teams and spectators who supported the event,” said Head of Community Fundraising and the event’s organiser, Rosie Gibbons, who’s already looking forward to the next one.
“It was a great team-building experience and several of the corporate teams – Mustang, Barclays Bank and the Mayford Arms – have already pledged to return, so we’re hoping to set a diary date really soon.”
INTERESTED in next year’s event? Then contact the Community Fundraising Team on 01483 881752 or visit www.wsbhospices.co.uk.