A village atmosphere was brought to Bath Riverside on Sunday, when hundreds of amateur paddlers took to the River Avon in dragon boats to compete to raise money for the Wizzybug Loan Scheme.
The Bath Dragon Boat Race saw heated battles between 14 local, national and international businesses who went head to head across three heats in a bid to be crowned top dragons.
The competitors were: Actual Experience, Advanced Investments Limited, Arke Ltd, Health Bath, Emery Brothers, Mumbles Group, Kersfield, Stone King, Bath Rotary Club, GKN Driveline, SRA Architects, Bath Dolphin Swimming Club and Bath Abbey.
Health Bath (Jiankang Dragons) came out as the winners, with Emery Brothers (Dragon ‘R’ Ashlar) and Advance Investments Ltd (The Advance Party) coming in close second and third places.
Each team was asked to raise a minimum of £600 in sponsorship to support Designability’s Wizzybug Loan Scheme which provides free, fun, powered wheelchairs called Wizzybugs to children aged 14 months – 5 years who are living with a disability like cerebral palsy, spina bifida and spinal muscular atrophy which affects their ability to walk.
The grand total is currently well over £20,000 and counting, as sponsorship continues to come in.
The event was co-ordinated by the charity Designability, Gable Events and a local fundraising group, Charity Friends.
Steve Tanner and Mac Sparrow of Charity Friends said: “We were pleased that all those who took part enjoyed themselves, despite the changeable weather conditions!
“It is also good to be able to report that the river, which has been the subject of some unfortunate occurrences over the past few years, can be seen to provide an invaluable amenity when used in a controlled and responsible manner.
“We hope to make this an annual event and some of this year’s teams have already expressed an interest in entering next year’s race.”
All the funds raised will help more children like Noah to access a free Wizzybug which provides young children with independence, freedom and play in the absence of NHS funding for powered wheelchairs.
Noah’s mum, Louise, said: “My son has benefited from the Wizzybug Loan Scheme and has had his Wizzybug for almost a year now. It has opened up his world. Being paraplegic, he has no movement from the waist down.
“With his Wizzybug, he can be the adventurous toddler he so desperately wants to be. He can keep up with his friends and choose exactly where he wants to go.
“He can run away from me and defy me, just like he should! He can greet people, and be seen as a toddler rather than a baby in a buggy. As a mother, watching him explore the world in this way and seeing him experience simple childhood joys, has been so precious.
“Without the loan scheme, we would not have been able to give our son this opportunity as we would not have been able to afford the cost of buying a powered chair.”
The event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Army and Sea Cadets who undertook the stewarding, the local Rotary Clubs and Dovetail Properties for acting as the main sponsor.
To find out more about Designability and the Wizzybug Loan Scheme, visit http://www.designability.org.uk or call 01225 824103.