Dragon Boat races at Roundhay Park in Leeds raise thousands for Martin House hospice

It was the biggest and loudest to date as hundred of colleagues and companies took to the water for the annual Dragon Boat races at Roundhay Park.

Sunday, 19th May 2019, 2:49 pm
One of the first teams to take part paddles into position

It is the 12th year that the event has been held to raise funds for Martin House Hospice, a centre which cares for children and young people, and organisers say that today's was the busiest yet with 48 teams and more than 500 participants taking part.

Decked in fancy dress, and life-jackets, teams of ten took to the Waterloo Lake in Roundhay Park with four boats at a time paddling out to the edge and racing each other back towards the Lakeside Cafe in a bid to make it through to the next round.

With spectators, families, friends, children, and even the dog, encouraged to come along and support with picnics and barbecues, it has made the Dragon Boat races one of Martin House's most popular events of the year.

One of the first teams to take part paddles into position

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It makes on average £80,000 in total - which at a cost of £22,000 a day to operate the hospice - only covers half a week. However, early indications are that around £92,000 is expected to have been raised this year.

The Co-op entered 12 teams and between them they have made £32,000 for the cause.

Matthew Caine is store manager for the Kirton-in-Lindsay branch. He said: "We all do things locally but it was a store manager that set this up as a regional event. We have done fund-raising locally but this is a nice thing to do, it is a nice day out and for a good cause."

Previous winners, IT firm, The ICC Group, were returning again for the fifth year. Managing director, Leon Wheeler said: "We have supported Martin House for the last six years and done this for the last four. Martin House is a great charity and as a local business we like to contribute as much as we can. We have families, kids, dogs, get a barbecue on and a few beers. It is a good social event, good for team building and good to be out of the office and have a laugh."

Plenty of spectators gathered to watch the action at Roundhay Park.

Ellie Barker, event manager, said: "The dragon boat race was the idea of one of our fundraisers and has been one of our most successful events over the years. This year is one of the biggest in terms of teams. It is such a lovely setting and a great atmosphere on the day.

"Some Martin House families have done it in the past to support us, they come for the day and some of the young people that are staying with us, we bring them over too. "

Teams taking part set up camp in the park with barbecues and picnics.