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

Photo by Thomas Levy Photography
The St Catherine’s Hospice annual Dragon Boat Festival returned to Tilgate Park in style, earlier this month, for a fantastic day of free family fun!
On Sunday 8 September, thousands of people attended the event which saw 34 teams, made up of local businesses, battle it out to be crowned Dragon Boat Champions 2019.
Among the contenders were Horsham businesses; Coole Bevis, ERG (Air Pollution Control) Ltd, Fisher Clinical, Forza Doors and Thakeham based in Billingshurst. Trevor Pratt, Group HR Manager at ERG (Air Pollution Control) Ltd, said: “ERG (Air Pollution Control) Ltd is delighted to support St Catherine’s again through our participation in their Dragon Boat Festival. The staff at St Catherine’s do such dedicated work, and this year’s race has even more poignancy for us as one of our colleagues unfortunately passed away at St Catherine’s in February.”
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.
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.”
St Catherine’s Dragon Boat Festival is one of the hospice’s biggest fundraisers. The charity states that 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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