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St Catherine’s celebrates oar-some Dragon Boat Festival

St Catherine’s Hospice Dragon Boat Festival burst back into Tilgate Park yesterday (10 September) for an ‘oar-some’ day of free, family fun.

The Worshipful Mayor of Crawley, Councillor Brian Quinn officially opened the event as crowds came out to cheer on more than 35 teams made up of local businesses including Crawley teams: A Band of Brothers, Avios, B&CE, CS Cable Jointing, CW Security, CAE, Harwoods, KPMG, Metrobus, OCS Tilgate, Outdoor Military Fitness (OMF), Search, St Catherine’s, The Hawth, Transvalair and Vines of Gatwick BMW and MINI.

Speaking before the race Charlotte Bruce from Metrobus, who also supplied a free park and ride bus for the festival, said: “We’re taking part in today’s event as our staff and their families have used the hospice so for us it’s a really important, worthwhile charity to support.”

Traditional fundraising stalls, like China Smash and a coconut shy encouraged people of all ages to donate money to their local hospice, whilst an inflatable pirate course, biscuit decorating and surf simulator kept younger visitors entertained. People enjoyed food from a range of vendors and drinks from Sussex Events Bars, an onsite bar that served a special Dragon Spritz and gave a percentage of its profits to St Catherine’s.

On the lake, teams showed true team spirit as they battled it out in a series of races in Chinese Dragon Boats but it was Terry’s Paddlers who found their sea legs to be crowned the 15th Dragon Boat champions and take away this year’s trophy with a winning time of 59 seconds.

Matt O’Leary, crew captain of Terry’s Paddlers said: “It’s been such an amazing day! I’m really impressed with the event, so much goes into it and we’re really proud to walk away with this year’s trophy.”

Coming in at second place was Assurity Consulting and taking third place was Vines Beemer who were reigning champions from last year. The winning teams were presented with medals and trophies by Terry O’Leary, Chair of Trustees at St Catherine’s.

St Catherine’s Dragon Boat Festival is one of the hospice’s biggest annual fundraisers and is on target to raise £80,000, to help St Catherine’s to provide expert end of life care to local terminally ill people and their friends and family, when life comes full circle.

Vines of Gatwick proudly sponsored the festival, alongside entering a team. Darren Buche, MINI Sales Executive at Vines of Gatwick said: “Once again, St Catherine’s Dragon Boat Festival was a fun-filled and energetic day! It was fantastic to see so many people come out to show their support and an ideal chance for us, as a local business, to show our gratitude for the work St Catherine’s does to help terminally ill people in our local community. Every year it’s a pleasure to be involved, and if your business missed out this year get yourself on the waitlist for next year. It really is an event not to be missed!”

Suzanne Davis, Philanthropy Coordinator at St Catherine’s, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who took part, volunteered or attended this year’s festival for helping us raise vital funds so we can continue to be there for people when they need us most.”

To see more pictures from the day please click here

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