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Thousands of faces at Northampton Dragon Boat races

Rotary clubs of Northampton organised the Dragon Boat Festival to raise money for the Air Ambulance. Midsummer Meadow, Northampton. NNL-140713-210103009

Rotary clubs of Northampton organised the Dragon Boat Festival to raise money for the Air Ambulance. Midsummer Meadow, Northampton. NNL-140713-210103009

Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Nene as nearly 40 teams battled it out to become Northampton’s Dragon Boat champions.

The 11th annual event, which takes place at Midsummer Meadow, featured a host of firms, groups and the town’s sea cadets, going head-to-head in a series of races in boats adorned with Chinese-style dragons.

Live music, courtesy of acts such as the Lincoln Noel Trio and Memphis Blue, kept crowds entertained on the riverbank between noon and 6pm on Sunday, alongside a funfair.

But the main event was won by the Tollers Torpedos – from Castilian Street-based Tollers Solicitors – who beat two hotly-tipped teams from joinery firm, Howdens, by a fraction of a second.

Chairman of the organising committee, Linda Lee-Davies, said: “It was a great day. As soon as we knew the weather would hold out, everything fell into place.”

Last year the event, staged by the four Rotary Clubs in Northampton, raised £38,000 and Mrs Lee-Davies said she expected this year’s total to top that, when it is all counted and collected in a month’s time.

Each rower was required to raise a minimum of £50 each in sponsorship, with fancy dress encouraged.

While the top three teams were separated by less than a second, the event was al about having fun, Mrs Lee-Davies said.

“We recognise teams from all ages, with a mix of men and women,” she said. “We encourage a bit of fancy dress as well and some silly team names, my favourite being ‘Ussain Boat’.”

A £12,000 sum will go to the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance and the rest split between numerous Northamptonshire causes supported by the Rotary Clubs. Michael Ellis, Conservative MP for Northampton North, said: “I understand the Rotary Club even had to turn away some teams who wanted to take part.”

“I would like to thank the hundreds of Rotarians that volunteered their time to manage and organise the event.”

 

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