Wakefield’s Dragon boat race was a roaring success

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More than 5,000 people enjoyed the Rotary Dragon Boat Challenge at Pugneys.

The July 8 event, organised by Wakefield Chantry and Huddersfield Rotary Clubs, is expected to have raised more than £40,000 for charity.

Lead organiser Bob Guard, said: “We are absolutely over the moon with the success this year. All of the hard work put in by the organising committee, the charity and social media efforts, the volunteers, combined with the good weather have resulted in this great event being even better than we could have hoped.”

The ninth edition of the Rotary Dragon Boat Challenge was the most successful yet. It was blessed with fantastic weather, a record number of entries and a record crowd.

The race, sponsored by Vantage Toyota, saw 40 teams race over the course of the day for charity.

The winners were Team GME from Wakefield, captained by Gavin Esberger. The crew, who supported the Levi Star Charity, narrowly beat The Musical Mariners, who supported the Wakefield Metropolitan Brass Band, and last year’s winners Stuart’s Big Kiss who supported Breast Cancer Haven.

The mixed final was won by the team from Addleshaw Goddard solicitors, which was captained by Rachel Williams. They supported MIND.

Beaumont Legal won the fancy dress contest.

Although the grand total is yet to be finalised, in excess of £40,000 is expected to have been raised. More than £250,000 will have been raised since the annual event’s inception.

Mr Guard added: “All teams raised money by sponsorship but perhaps the honours this year have to go to HSBC who entered two teams and whose competitors managed to raise over £13,000 for their charity, the Alzheimer’s Society. A stunning effort.

“This year the Lottery Big Fund kindly financed a programme entitled ‘Inspire Wakefield’ to encourage smaller charities and organisations to enter teams in the event and encourage more people to volunteer and support them.

“This proved to be a stunning success with 10 new charities entered for the first time and over 220 new volunteers supporting those smaller charities.”

A huge variety of teams entered this year, including three from Wakefield Trinity, one from Leeds Ladies FC, two from HSBC, and two from EuroPro in Wakefield, who kindly provided some of the prizes for the programme prize draw.

Some of the other charities represented this year were CAP, Beat Autism, the Whole Autism Family, Wakefield Pride, Wakefield Whirlwinds Wheelchair Basketball, Star Bereavement, Laura Crane, Levi Star, the Yorkshire Bleeding Disorders Group, Hannah House, Barnsley Hospital Chemotherapy ward, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Snydale Riding for the Disabled and Hand to Mouth.

Mr Guard added: “The day was probably summed up best by some of the spectators and participants who were overheard leaving the event after it was all over saying, ‘What a fantastic day – we really didn’t want it to end’.”

Pictures courtesy of Ray Spencer, Emmie Johnson and HSBC.