Severn Hospice Dragon Boat Festival makes a splash - with video and pictures

By Aimee Jones | In photos | Published: | Last Updated:

The Hawaii Five O theme tune rang out around Shrewsbury this weekend as dragon boats roared down the River Severn.

It was not the glorious sunshine everyone had hoped for, but that did not stop competitors getting into the true spirit of the Severn Hospice Dragon Boat Festival.

More than 40 teams took part in this year's event across Saturday and Sunday, and hundreds more watched on as the 40ft boats raced between the Shrewsbury School and Pengwern Boat Clubs.

Severn Hospice Dragon Boat Festival 2019, Shrewsbury

It was a particularly poignant moment for the three teams from Hadley Community Learning whose members were taking part in memory of their colleague Samantha Webster who was cared for at Severn Hospice after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

Staff pulled out all of the stops in November last year to ensure Samantha could marry the love of her life, Alec. She died just a week after the wedding.

Gaby Hickman said: "It's really exciting once you get into the boat and get going. Sam always had a smile on her face so this was all about doing something fun and remembering her for the positive person she was. So doing in her memory felt really, really good.

"We tried really hard and the captain said we had good rhythm, but for us the main thing is having fun and raising money for Severn Hospice."

The group entered three teams consisting of 60 people in total, who all wore t-shirts with Samantha's face on the back.


Batman: Nick Jones, Super Mario: Simon Taylor and She-ra: Kiri Hatton from WSP Consultants

Other teams sported fancy dress, including zombies, Mexicans, pirates, superheroes - and even a toilet roll.

Mike Speller, operations director at Northwood Hygiene Products, received a lot of attention for his unusual costume.

Despite being dressed up as a toilet roll, Mike said his team rowed well.


"We took part last year so we determined to improve this year," he said.

"To choose the team we actually had a rowing machine set up in the office and held time trials which got very competitive.

"Even though it's competitive for us, it's also good team building. It's one of the only opportunities that the office staff and the factory workers come together. We've brought along about 100 staff to cheer us on and enjoy the day."

Team WSP were also back for the second year running in a bid to improve on last year's performance.

"It's the second year I've done it and it's really good fun. We came third last year so we were feeling confident but on the first heat we didn't get the best of starts and then started flagging in the middle.

"But it's all for a good cause which is what really matters. My mum works in the Severn Hospice office in Shrewsbury so I know how important the work they do is."

Shrewsbury Dragon Boat race for Severn Hospice at the Pengwern Boat Club

All of the money raised from the festival will support patients and their families living with an incurable illness in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales.

Krys Preisner, from Stirchley Medical Practice in Telford and team Not Fast Just Furious, added: "It's just a great cause to support because you never know if you or someone you love will need to use Severn Hospice.

"It's also great fun, although a bit frightening when you first get in the boat. It's a good chance to get everyone together as a team and have a bit of fun - all for a good cause."

Hannah Gamston, fundraising officer at Severn Hospice, said: “Our Dragon Boat Festival Weekend was one to remember this year – we had more than 40 teams racing along the River Severn on Saturday and Sunday.

“The feedback from those that took part in the event has been fantastic and there were some super fancy dress costumes on both days.

“A big thank you to all the businesses who registered a team as well as our corporate boat sponsors Charter Savings Bank and Network Telecom for their support.

“Without our supporters we wouldn’t be able to hold events like this, which help us fund comforting care and emotional support for families living with an incurable illness."

The next event in the Severn Hospice calendar is Shropshire’s biggest inflatable obstacle course Kapow! on August 3 at the West Mid Showground in Shrewsbury.

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.


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