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St Catherine’s Hospice Dragon Boat Festival returns with a splash!

St Catherine’s Hospice annual Dragon Boat Festival returned to Tilgate Park in style yesterday (Sunday 8 September), for a fantastic day of free family fun!

Thousands of people turned out at Tilgate to watch 34 teams, made up of local businesses, battle it out to be crowned Dragon Boat Champions 2019.

This included Surrey based businesses; Avionics Support Sales from Betchworth, Bravo Minions from Tadworth, KMG Independent Ltd from Smallfield, Raven Housing Trust from Redhill and ABL1 Touch and Cavendish Care from Reigate.

Thomas Levy Photography

Speaking on the day, James Groves, Marketing Services Manager at Raven Housing Trust said: “We’re having a thoroughly enjoyable day. It’s really well organised and we’ve had lots of fun raising money for a cause very close to our hearts. We hope our efforts will make a difference to those facing death and bereavement. As a business, we want to work with and support charity partners in our community, who, like us, are passionate and believe in changing lives. We’re looking forward to raising even more money for St Catherine’s, who are our charity of the year, in the coming months.”

Those on the shorelines tried their luck at traditional fête games like hook a duck and tin can alley, whilst younger visitors sprung into action on giant inflatables. And people made sure they looked their best with face paint and glitter, before posing in a photo booth. Visitors also tucked into tasty food from onsite vendors and enjoyed refreshing drinks from the onsite bar. The bar was 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, in a tightly fought final, FFGS Golf Society powered through and were crowned champions, with a winning time of 52 seconds, which was five seconds faster than last year’s winners.

FFGS Golf Society winning team – Sara Fermore Photography

Close behind, in second place, were Beemer, with Thakeham 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 Raj Sharma.

After being crowned champions, FFGS Team Captain, Liam Ahearne said: “We loved taking part in our first Dragon Boat race. We didn’t think we’d be that competitive but once we saw the times of our first few races, we were spurred on to make the final! We’ve been friends for years; we started playing football together and now we’re all part of the FFGS Golf Society. We feel so proud to support such a great cause, particularly as every person on our team has had experience of the vital care St Catherine’s offers. We joined St Catherine’s for Live at the Lake this weekend too, so being crowned Dragon Boat champions was the perfect way to round off the weekend. It was an amazing family experience.”

The Final – Thomas Levy Photography

St Catherine’s Dragon Boat Festival is one of the hospice’s biggest fundraisers. And by supporting this event, local people have made sure that terminally ill people in their community can receive care and support when it matters most.

This community support has never been more vital because currently, St Catherine’s can only care for one in three people who need their support. With the help of local people attending events, the hospice wants to make sure that, in the future, 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 our 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!”

To find out about future St Catherine’s events, or how you can support the hospice or make a donation, please visit: www.stch.org.uk.

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