Businesses breathe fire into charity’s Dragon Boat racing day

Businesses across the Wigan Borough showed their support for a local stroke charity by taking to the water for a Dragon Boat race day.

Think Ahead Stroke Group held its fourth annual race day on Friday, September 5 at Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club on Pennington Flash, which saw eight teams battle it out for supremacy over the course of the afternoon.

A total of £2,000 was raised on the day for the charity, which provides vital services for Stroke Survivors and their Carers across the Borough.

Think Ahead helps to support more than 500 stroke survivors and carers across Wigan and Leigh by offering social and educational activities to help tackle loneliness and depression.

The charity also offers its unique Self Care for Stroke course, which has provided many Stroke Survivors and their Carers with information on how to manage their condition and how to access local health services.

The event – which promoted teambuilding and networking amongst the local businesses – proved to be an intense clash between the teams, with a nail-biting final race seeing the Super Strokers from MSE Joinery piped to the post by the Millkcrew from Milliken Industries.

Linda Fairclough of this year’s winning team the Millikrew said: “Although everyone has been very competitive, it has all been done in good spirit – and the day provided a great opportunity for businesses to get together and do something worthwhile for a great cause.

“Think Ahead is a fantastic organisation, and just by talking to them you can see their members are committed to helping stroke survivors to lead fuller lives – so we’re proud to help raise funds for such a vital group.

“We’re also very happy to have beaten off the competition for the second year in a row, and are already looking forward to being back in the water next year to defend our title.”

Each Dragon Boat was made up of 10 paddlers and a drummer, with all the boats supplied by Crusaders Dragon Boat Club from Crosby in Merseyside.

Teams taking part in the day also included the Wigan branch of Groundwork UK, digital marketing firm Soapmedia and Leigh Centurions, who teaming up with Williams & Co Solicitors to field a team of both players and fans.

Centurions’ player Ryan Brierley said: “As sportsmen – and fans of sport – we’re all really competitive, so it’s definitely something we wanted to get involved with.

“Fighting tooth and claw to help such a great cause was very rewarding in itself, but was made extra special by rowing with Centurions’ fans.”

Also supporting Think Ahead on the day were volunteers from a local branch of multi-national pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which helped to cover the day’s cost as well as organising a raffle to help boost the total funds raised.

Local bakers Greenhalgh kindly donated 100 pies to ensure everyone was able to keep their strength up, while local wedding singer, DJ and Manchester United match day MC John Norcott kept everyone entertained out of the water.

Think Ahead’s chairman, Mike Aspinall, said: “Without support from businesses like these, we wouldn’t be able to keep running our vital services for stroke survivors and carers in the borough.

“Every year 1,000 people are affected by stroke locally, half of which is preventable by leading a healthy and active lifestyle – such as taking part in Dragon Boat racing.

“We’re proud to continue our race day for local businesses, and are already planning the next race in 2015, alongside a whole new range of fundraising and raising awareness activities.”

Think Ahead is currently looking for local business people and members of the public to become ambassadors for their charity to help raise funds so it can continue to deliver vital services for stroke survivors and their carers.

If you are interested in supporting the charity or would like to make a donation to Think Ahead, please visit its fundraising page or alternatively call the Stroke Information Centre on 01942 824 888.