Dragon boat’s decade on the wa­ter

Marlborough Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - PAULA HULBURT

It started with just six peo­ple as a way to of­fer friend­ship, fit­ness and sup­port to women di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer.

Ten years on and mem­bers of The Sim­ply The Breast Dragon Boat Team are set to cel­e­brate a mile­stone birth­day.

And the crew hope both past and present mem­bers will join them to mark the spe­cial oc­ca­sion.

The group started of­fi­cially in Marl­bor­ough in 2008 but its ori­gins started two years ear­lier.

Two women who had ex­pe­ri­enced dragon boat rac­ing in Van­cou­ver gave a talk at Can­cer So­ci­ety Marl­bor­ough.

A do­nated boat, pad­dles and the will to help oth­ers saw the team come to­gether.

It has since helped hun­dreds of women across the re­gion with ad­vice, sup­port and fit­ness.

Co-chair Susie Wil­liams was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer at 40-years-old and un­der­went surgery in Oc­to­ber 2012.

The mother-of-three moved to Marl­bor­ough with her fam­ily in 2014.

‘‘I made con­tact with the group within days of ar­riv­ing in Blen­heim. I’ve met some won­der­ful peo­ple and the sense of ca­ma­raderie is al­ways there.

‘‘Breast can­cer is not all we talk about,’’ she says.

The team’s pri­mary aim is to as­sist in the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of breast can­cer sur­vivors.

En­try for the dragon boat sea­son, trans­port and as­so­ci­ated costs, in­clud­ing the up­keep of the boats, eas­ily run into thou­sands of dol­lars ev­ery year.

The group also needs women pad­dlers of any age and ex­pe­ri­ence to help keep the team strong.

A coach, sweeps and sup­port boat driv­ers are also needed.

‘‘You do form a bond through un­der­stand­ing. I’ve learnt so much, both good and bad but what never changes is the sup­port; it’s un­be­liev­able.’’ she said.

Mem­bers of the Sim­ply The Breast Dragon Boat Team will gather to cel­e­brate their 10-year an­niver­sary with an event on May 18 at Saint Clair Fam­ily Es­tate Vine­yard Kitchen on Selmes Rd.

Wil­liam says would love to see as many fam­ily and friends of cur­rent and past pad­dlers as pos­si­ble to cel­e­brate this mile­stone.

Tick­ets are avail­able for $30 and can be or­dered by con­tact­ing: Susie Wil­liams on: 027 776 6388 or by email­ing stb­drag­ons@gmail.com

Mem­bers of the Sim­ply the Breast dragon boat team and po­ten­tial new re­cruits take to the wa­ter. (File photo)

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