St Catherine's Hospice annual Dragon Boat Festival returned to Tilgate Park with a splash yesterday (Sunday 9 September), in a fantastic day of free family fun!
This year's festival was the hospice's biggest ever to date, with more teams than ever before taking to the lake.
Teams were made up of local businesses, including Crawley teams: Irwin Mitchell, Elekta, Grant Thornton, UK Power Networks, B&CE, CAE Training & Services, Vines BMW & Mini, Childcare & Learning Cranbrook, Inspiration Healthcare, KPMG, Search, Siemens, Smith & Western, St Catherine's Hospice, Thales, Virgin Media, Novo Nordisk, and Oriel High School
who battled it out to be crowned Dragon Boat Champions 2018.
Speaking on the day, George De Silvo, Corporate Associate from Irwin Mitchell said: "The Irwin Mitchell team has really enjoyed getting involved with the Dragon Boat Festival. St Catherine's is our Charity of the Year and so we've been raising funds for them since January. Hearing about the Dragon Boat Festival got the whole office excited and motivated to do as much as we can to help such a great cause. I'm so pleased our Noah's Ark survived!"
Ian Watson, Head of Software Engineering at Elekta said, "We've been taking part in Dragon Boats for many years. It's a big event and brings so many people from local businesses and the local community together for a great cause. What St Catherine's does resonates a lot with what we do at Elekta, helping people at a moment of need in their lives. The hospice is a great cause to support."
Grant Thornton were another Crawley team competing. Between races, John O'Mahony, Partner at Grant Thornton, said: "We're very proud to be associated with St Catherine's Hospice. They do wonderful work and we've had great fun fundraising. Our team 'Sea's the Day' are making great progress during our heats and we're feeling very optimistic!"
Those on the shorelines tried their luck at traditional fête games such as hook a duck and a penalty shootout, whilst younger visitors sprung into action on giant inflatables. Visitors also tucked into tasty food from onsite vendors and enjoyed refreshing drinks from the onsite bar, provided by Sussex Event Bars, who donated a percentage of profits to St Catherine's.
On the lake, teams showed true team spirit as they raced across the water in Chinese Dragon Boats. After a full day of races, DHL Express powered through to be crowned champions, with a winning time of 57 seconds, which was two seconds faster than last year's winners.
Amanda Phelan, Operations Manager at DHL Express, said: "This is our third year competing and it's always such a lovely, fantastic day. The second year we took part we came in at second place so we were here to win today. And we're thrilled we managed it!" Close behind, in second place, were Vines Ltd with Vines Beemer taking the third place trophy. Winning teams were presented with medals and trophies by Giles Tomsett, Chief Executive at St Catherine's, and The Worshipful Mayor of Crawley, Councillor Carlos Portal Castro.
Vines of Gatwick proudly sponsored the festival, alongside entering two teams. Darren Buche, MINI Sales Executive at Vines of Gatwick said: "Every year, we have a fantastic day at St Catherine's Dragon Boat Festival. It's been great seeing even more teams competing this year to show their support for the amazing work St Catherine's does caring for people in the community around us. It's a fun day out for us as colleagues and it's brilliant to raise money for such a worthwhile cause. We're pleased that our efforts will help more people in our community in the future. We're already looking forward to signing up for next year's race!"
St Catherine's Dragon Boat Festival is one of the local hospice's biggest annual fundraisers. The event will help them provide expert end of life care to local terminally ill people and their friends and family, when life comes full circle. Currently, the hospice can only care for one in three people. But with the support of the community at events like Dragon Boats, the hospice wants to make sure that nobody faces death and loss alone.
Suzanne Davis, Corporate Fundraiser at St Catherine's, said: "We'd like to thank everyone who supported or took part in this year's Dragon Boat Festival. Your efforts take us a step nearer to reaching everyone who needs us. We hope you all enjoyed the day as much as we did!"
You can see the Images from the Dragon Boat Race here:
(Credit for images goes to Sara Fermore and Toby Phillips Photography)
To find out about future St Catherine's events, or how you can support the hospice, visit: www.stch.org.uk.