In the current climate it is becoming increasingly important for companies to recognise the contribution of their staff and give them something to look forward to in order to lift morale, build teamwork and achieve greater efficiency. Fortunately, there are still ways to motivate staff that don’t cost the earth and one of the most exhilarating and fun is by entering a team in this year’s East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival in aid of East Anglia’s Childrens Hospices (EACH). Now in it’s fourth year, the Dragon Boat Festival takes place at Oulton Broad, Lowestoft on Sunday 10th May 2009.
Hundreds of companies in East Anglia have already experienced the motivational benefits of dragon boat racing and Festival organisers, Gable Events, are delighted that the downturn has not had a negative effect on this year’s entries. Indeed, with entries rolling in fast from companies such as the Marriott Sprowston Manor, Morgan Ashurst, Great Yarmouth Power Station, Birketts LLP, Sizewell ‘A’, Venue of Performing Arts, Hoseasons, The Fishers Hotel, Expro North Sea, TRO and NHS Great Yarmouth & Waveney, it appears that there has never been a better time to get involved.
Dragon boat racing is one of the few activities where technique, timing and above all team work win the day, rather than physical prowess and, as no previous experience is required, everyone starts in the same boat (so to speak!) Team bonding starts as soon as the company decides to enter, with colleagues working out every detail from choosing the crew name and deciding on the fancy dress outfits to distributing the sponsorship forms, appointing who will be responsible for the beer and securing your spot on the day… and that’s before you’ve even picked up a paddle!
Once in the boats provided by the organisers on the day, you are seated in pairs to paddle for each of your three races and, encouraged by your trained helmsman, shop floor workers and managing directors are soon united in the common team goal of powering your boat down the 200m racecourse in the fastest possible time.
Very quickly dragon boat racing gets the whole team working together as one, communicating effectively from the front of the boat to the back and having fun. The whole day is very relaxed and companies are given every opportunity to raise their profile and network whilst soaking up the atmosphere of a large scale corporate event – all for less than £45 per person!
Based in Lowestoft, the UK’s largest self catering holiday company, Hoseasons, has entered a team for the first time into this year’s Dragon Boat Festival. Their team leader, Systems Development Manger, Chris Mehew, comments: “As a company our motto is ‘Team Hoseasons’. Both in and out of the office, we support a more active Britain and carrying on this spirit are volunteers from our head office based in Lowestoft. As regular supporters of Comic Relief, Hoseasons are proud to also support such a worthy cause as EACH by participating in this event. In fact the enthusiasm for joining the team means we have more crew volunteers than places. It’s a case of a paddle off to select our first team!”
Entering the event for the second year are Great Yarmouth Power Station with a team that brings together their operational, maintenance and administration staff. Spokesperson, Brian Jones, comments, “We have 42 staff and they all enjoy coming together for the fun of the day and to raise money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. Those that aren’t paddling come along to support the team, soak up the atmosphere and take part in the land activities”.
As well as the dragon boat racing there will be plenty of bankside activities on the day to keep teams, families and spectators entertained. These include fun fair rides and inflatables, street entertainment and a Chinese lion dance. There will also be a wide range of catering stalls and a bar where you can either celebrate your victory or drown your sorrows! The Festival has the full support of The Beach who will have a team and the Beach Bunnies there on the day plus Radio Norwich, Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council Passenger Transport.
Construction company, Morgan Ashurst, have entered a team into the Festival before but for the first time this year, 22 colleagues (from apprentices to contract managers) representing their Norwich and Ipswich offices are preparing to go head-to-head. Whatever the outcome, both teams will be united in the common cause of fundraising for EACH. Every year the company donates funds to the charity and joins forces with its suppliers to carry out repairs and maintenance at the charity’s hospices in Quidenham and Milton.
The top fundraisers for EACH will receive a special oriental buffet lunch for the whole crew courtesy of the China Diner Restaurant in Lowestoft plus a complimentary group gym session with a personal trainer and light lunch at the Marriott Sprowston Manor in Norwich who have also entered a team.
EACH gives care and support to life-threatened children and their families either in the family home or at one of their three hospices in Quidenham (Norfolk), Ipswich (Suffolk) and Milton (Cambs). Carl Brooks, Corporate Fundraiser for EACH, explains: “The majority of EACH’s costs are not for specialist equipment but for delivering the specialist one-to-one nursing care and support so vital to local children and their families. Relying as much as we do on voluntary public support, we are delighted to be the official charity for the Dragon Boat Festival once again and hope to surpass the fantastic total of £30,000 raised in 2008”.