In September, World In Need supporters will have fun and raise funds for us at the same time at the annual Dragon Boat Festival at Bewl Water, near Lamberhurst in Kent. This is the thirteenth year that the festival has taken place on this reservoir, and it has grown year on year so that now, as well as the actual races, there will be field events, tented activities, bands and celebrities, making it a good day out for all the family.
The festival, which takes place on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September, is the largest event of its type in Europe. Over the two days, 100 teams compete in ten boats, while upwards of 15,000 spectators cheer them on. The teams are often raising money for charity – over £1.4 million has been raised for 175 charities since the festival began.
This year, World In Need will be one of the charities to benefit from the event. We have one team taking part in the festival, made up of members of the Royal Spa, Tunbridge Wells chapter of the BNI, and we hope to field another team made up of WINners who like a little fun with their fund raising. If you think you’d like to be part of this team, all you have to do is contact our Director, Ron George, at firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll give you the details.
This Dragon Boat Festival is one in a national series of Dragon Boat Races. Other races take place throughout the year at York, Bristol and Milton Keynes, as well as many other places. The Bewl Water festival has become a major event on the South East calendar.
Dragon Boat racing is a Chinese tradition which goes back over 2000 years. No-one is sure where it originated but one theory is that it was an attempt to appease the powers of darkness before the death and decay of winter set in. There would be a mock battle between boats and the losing teams would symbolise sacrifice. If a losing boat sank, the crew might be left to drown in the belief that they had been chosen by the gods to be a literal sacrifice. You will be relieved to hear Bewl Water does not follow this part of the tradition. If anyone does fall in, there’ll be a rescue boat on stand by!