Bewl Water Dragon Boat Festival raises thousands

Pam Mills

Around 3,000 people were involved on Saturday [September 8] in the 21st and final event, which have been staged by small organisation Funraisers.

And the teams of 17 [16 paddlers and one drummer playing the cox role] rose to the occasion, by raising £150,000 in sponsorship, which will be donated across the 40 charities chosen by teams and individuals.

Kevin Millington, Funraisers committee member, said more than £3million has been raised over the 21 years and the organisers wanted to ‘quit while they were ahead’ after another successful edition. The dragon boat race is their only current project.

“We have decided to stop, 21 years is a long time and it’s a lot of effort pulling it together,” he told the Times.

“As a team, we wanted to finish at the top. It has been more difficult to find sponsors and that has been taking up more and more time.

“We have one or two other things in mind, but for the moment we are taking a bit of a break. It felt melancholic to finish it all. It has become a real community over the years and we have come to know some of the regular competitors.”

Two of these are the teams Wadhurst Warriors and Bidborough Dragons, whose members train hard for the events and have both previously won the challenge.

Both were at the forefront again, becoming two of the 12 teams to qualify from the time-trial-style heats into the grand final. Wadhurst eventually prevailed, pipping Bidborough by three tenths of a second, to finish the 250m course in 1minute 11.

To find out about future events organised by Funraisers, visit

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