THE sixth annual Dragon Boat Race organised by Skipton Rotary took place at The Coniston Hotel Country Estate and Spa on Sunday. 

15 local community teams took part, each raising funds for their own particular charities as diverse as mental health, Airedale Hospital and disabled and disadvantaged children.

"The Dragon Boat Race has become part of our annual fund raising," said Mark Ludlam, organiser and member of Skipton Rotary. "And we’re delighted The Coniston Hotel Country Estate and Spa is willing to help host the event."

Amongst the magnificent scenery of the estate the 15 teams, each with 10 rowers and a drummer to keep the paddlers in unison raced three heats across the 200-meter course and then the eight fastest teams entered the semi-finals to result in a final four teams racing for the title of champions.

Teams included the local National Farmers Union which was raising funds to support Andy’s Man Club, a charity dedicated to suicide prevention amongst young men. "This is our second year of competing and we’re hoping to beat our position last time when we came third," said Sarah Hargreaves, the team’s coordinator. "We also want to improve on the £1000 we raised previously," she said.

The enthusiasm of staff at Airedale Maternity Unit meant they could enter two teams, both dedicated to raising funds to improve the experience of mums and dads using the labour and post-natal facilities at the hospital.

‘Crowning Glory’ was made up of staff from the maternity team and was the only all-female team in the competition, and despite valiant efforts they didn’t manage to secure a place in the final but gave the spectators and a bonus race when they pitted their strength against each other.

Second time competitors were a team from Robertson Construction based in Sheffield. Currently working on the refurbishment of Airedale Hospital, the team came in dressed as cowboys and cowgirls and won a prize for their sartorial style.

The staff and members of the Nadarra Spa at the Coniston Hotel Country Estate are regular competitors in the competition. Kalan Turner, Fitness Manager, said it had been straightforward to enlist volunteers. "We have a great set of members and staff,’ he said ‘and our good cause this year is ‘Dementia Forward’ and we’ve raised funds by raffling off products, training sessions and treatments at the spa."

A team new to the competition was local construction company Whitelocks Developments Ltd. Their team, ‘Whitelocks Warriors,’ made up of heavy plant drivers was raising funds for ‘Lighthouse’, the construction industry’s charity supporting those affected by accidents and mental health issues.

"We saw the event last year and thought what wonderful way to help us promote the charity and all it does for the construction industry", said Amreet Chouhan, team coach. "We’ve been helping devise a mental health app for staff and workers and the money we raise will help develop this."

Other construction companies were well-represented on the day with ADNC and Triton Construction. Triton’s team name ‘Tri It On’, raised some smiles and was made up of members of the management team and their families. All the money raised was destined for Rotary Foundation which works for many worthwhile international causes, including world peace and understanding.

Rowing in the heat of a sultry May afternoon wasn’t easy but the final came down to four teams in the final with the winners ‘The Knights, representing the Principle Trust which helps improve the quality of life of children from across Yorkshire who are underprivileged, disadvantaged, or disabled through the provision of free holidays and respite breaks.

"We’re delighted to have won and thank you to everyone who took part," said Kerry Magson from the Principle Trust. "All the funds we’ve raised will help disadvantaged children escape their troubles and create special memories.’

"We are so pleased to be able to help local organisation raise funds for their chosen charities,’ said Louise Bolton, Director at the Coniston Hotel Country Estate and Spa. "And it’s a pleasure to work with Skipton Rotary in making the day such a success."

"Once all the donations and pledges have been received it is expected the day will have raised close to £15,000," said Mark Ludlam from Skipton Rotary. "And a huge thank you to all who took part."