DRAGON boats are winging their way back to Stratford to mark the return of outdoor fund-raisers for The Shakespeare Hospice.
The racing is always a colourful spectacle as teams do battle on the River Avon in large canoe-like vessels fitted with ornately carved dragon’s heads and tails.
Like all the hospice’s main fund-raisers, the race was cancelled last year. But in light of the government’s restriction roadmap, a date has been set for the event in September.
And the hospice team is encouraging people to think about getting a crew together – with an Early Bird offer available for entries made by the end of March.
Event organiser Bridget Richards said: “We are delighted to be able to bring the Dragon Boat Race back this year and hope it will be an exciting day out people can look forward to.
“The hospice nursing teams have been going out and supporting people in the community throughout the past year, at a time when we have not been able to run our fund-raising events and our shops have been shut for much of the time.
“We are looking forward to the shops reopening from the target date of April 12 and also have some exciting virtual events coming up–but we are pleased we can also look forward to the dragons returning and then our Santa Scramble at the end of November.”
The racing involves crews of up to 17 people, who sit in pairs and paddle to compete in races over distances of around 250m. Each boat has a drummer beating time to keep the paddlers in unison.
Each team competes in a minimum of three races and those with the fastest single times will compete in the grand final.
Bridget added: “Our 2019 final was incredibly exciting with only seconds splitting the last six boats, cheered on by crowds lining the river.
We will be keeping up-to-date with the ongoing guidelines so you can be sure by the time of the event, the format will follow the latest advice.”
Visit theshakespearehospice.org.uk for more details and to sign up.