To celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dragon, St Elizabeth Hospice has joined with Gable Events to launch the seventh East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival. 

The 2012 Festival takes place on Sunday 27th May on Oulton Broad in Nicholas Everitt Park, Lowestoft with new charity partner, St Elizabeth Hospice on board, and is one of the largest and most eagerly anticipated team events in the region.

Over 30 crews representing companies, organisations, clubs and groups of friends from all over East Anglia are expected to battle it out over the 200m race course. They will all be seeking to knock Expro North Sea from Great Yarmouth off their pedestal as reigning champions whilst also aiming to add to the event’s impressive fund-raising total of more than £100,000 for charity over the years.

 

Dragon boat racing has an ancient Chinese history and the Festival is a re-enactment of a tragic event that took place more than 2,000 years ago in the kingdom of Chu. Legend has it that falsely accused of treason and exiled by jealous rivals in the government, despairing warrior poet, Qu Yuan, threw himself into the Mi Lo River.

Local fishermen rowed out to save the drowning poet and tried to rescue him from vicious fish by beating the water with their paddles. But their attempts failed and every year in Hong Kong a Tuen Ng (Dragon Boat) Festival is held as a mark of respect for the fishermen’s frantic efforts and to commemorate the tragic death of Qu Yuan.

The dragon boat’s fierce looking dragon’s heads were added later to ward off evil spirits and in Hong Kong special dumplings are eaten to represent the dumplings that were thrown in to the river to stop the fish eating the mighty Qu’s body.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon which may result in some interesting races as the dragon is said to be all powerful but completely unpredictable! It also symbolises great success and happiness, so the winning teams should be even more excited than usual in their victories!

No previous experience is required to take part in the dragon boat racing, just plenty of team spirit so why not take up the challenge? Thankfully, you don’t need the physical strength of a Steve Redgrave or the athleticism of a Jessica Ennis to be successful as teamwork and timing win the day.

 

The dragon boats, qualified helms and all racing equipment are provided and each crew is guaranteed a minimum of three races. The Festival offers a full day of fun on land as well as water with plenty of activities on the bankside to entertain teams and spectators between races. The event is supported by Waveney District Council, BBC Radio Suffolk and The Lowestoft Journal.

St Elizabeth Hospice is delighted to be the new official Festival charity this year having seen the event’s unique potential for fundraising and fun. The charity is dedicated to helping people living with a progressive illness and supporting their families free of charge. This year it is expanding its services for patients in Waveney and Great Yarmouth. The Hospice relies on fundraising events such as the Dragon Boat Festival as well as individual and corporate donations and the income generated from its shops.

Sara White, St Elizabeth Hospice’s Corporate Fundraising Manager, said: “We are encouraging as many businesses as possible to take up the challenge and enter a team in this year’s Dragon Boat Festival and raise sponsorship for St Elizabeth Hospice. By entering a team in this fun event you will be helping us to raise awareness of the services we provide free of charge in the local area as well as raising funds which will help us to continue to provide these services in future.”

The top fundraisers for St Elizabeth Hospice will win the charity trophy plus a full day of spa and gym use and lunch kindly donated by the Marriott Sprowston Manor in Norwich.

Carol Lester, Director of Festival organisers, Gable Events, adds: “The Festival is a great chance for companies and organisations to try something completely different, promote themselves to a large local audience, network with local companies and potential clients and raise money for St Elizabeth Hospice. It is also a fantastic team building opportunity – what better way to get to know what makes your colleagues and competitors tick?! We expect the Festival to be as popular as ever this time around so we recommend teams get their entries in early to guarantee a place”.

For further information and an entry form visit www.dragonboatfestivals.co.uk/eastanglia or call Gable Events on 01780 470 718. To find out more about St Elizabeth Hospice services in your area call 01493 690990 or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk

Attached pictures of the East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival, courtesy of Satalight Photography.

The East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival is one of seven Dragon Boat Festivals Gable Events organise around the UK. They also offer a variety of other corporate events for motivation, team building and fun. For further information on the East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival and Gable Events services, call Carol Lester on 01780 470718 or visit www.gable-events.co.uk

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