Pool of Life had a very enjoyable and successful outing to Ireland on the 19/20 August, taking part in the Donegal Dragons’ first dragonboat regatta, held in the beautiful Donegal Bay. 10 teams, including three breast cancer teams, took part and Pool of Life bagged 2nd place! However, that wasn’t our finest hour….we took part in the fancy dress competition as the ‘Desperate Scousewives’ (complete with curlers and PJs) and bowled everyone over to win that trophy. We were the talk of the town and the locals didn’t know what had hit their quiet town!
……..and the lucky winner of the prize draw for the original Chris Bibby painting of our Pool of Life boat ‘Hope’ and Liverpool City backdrop was Jo Nash a member of ‘Day at the Races’; one of our Dragons and Flowers Festival racing teams ’. Congratulations Jo!
To raise awareness of Breast Cancer, during Octobers Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Pool of Life and Amathus Dragonboat Club held a ‘Taster day’ at the Liverpool Watersports Centre. Potential new members and their supporters were invited to try their hand at dragon boat paddling and to find out more about our support group’s activities.
Breast cancer patients, their friends and their relatives were also joined by Miss Leena Chagla (2nd from right in photo), breast surgeon and Lead Clinician in Breast Services at St Helens & Knowsley NHS Trust who brought with her a number of colleagues from the Trust.
Following a safety briefing, the issue of buoyancy aids and a quick demonstration, paddlers were loaded into the Dragon Boats. Lots of nerves were showing, and a few people were very anxious about stepping into the boat for the first time. Two dragon boats were put through their paces, learning the basic paddling technique and enjoying weather that showed the docks at their most attractive. The two boats paddled majestically into Albert Dock where they admired the scenery before lining up for the first of several races, with friendly banter being exchanged between boats. The sight of the two boats delighted the watching crowd of visitors at the dock, who took videos and photos, clapped and cheered us on.
Despite initial nerves about stepping into the boat for the first time, all this was forgotten as the paddle session progressed and the rivalry between boats increased. But there can only be one winner and the losing team smiled sweetly through the “three cheers for other boat” ritual.
All paddlers received a hero’s welcome from onlookers as they arrived back at the centre for tea and cakes, provided by the fantastic Pool of Life bakers. Lots of chatter took place, experiences and fears were exchanged, friendships were made, and lots of “when can we do that again” and “Can I have a go next time” and of course “please can I come again”. A huge thank you to everyone who came along to join in, to the bakers, the welcome committee, the people who set up the centre and those who helped to put it back. Thanks to the drummers and the Helms/coaches, we couldn’t have done it without you. We even got a write up in the online Liverpool Echo: here.
The best times involve both tears and laughter whenever the Pool of Life ladies get together. A night at the Burney Breast Unit’s bi-annual fundraiser was one such evening. Held at the Saint’s rugby ground, a fashion show saw dozens of breast cancer survivors strutting their stuff on the cat-walk, and many more supporters cheering on their loved ones.
The brainchild of the unit’s chief consultant, Miss Leena Chagla, and hosted by Radio Merseyside’s Lynda McDermott, guests feasted on a bevy of beautiful brides, glamorous gowns and even a choreographed routine from “Liverpool’s version of Hawaii 5-0”.
Pool of Life ladies were at the event to raise awareness of our unique support group, displaying photographs, medals and paddling equipment via a promotional stand and generally spreading the word about our activities. Dressed in race tops, the PoL ladies made a striking addition to the room, and even matched the colour scheme chosen by Lynda’s fellow host, Pauline Daniels.
Ms Daniels, who announced her intention to marry the ‘love of her life’ Frank in May 2017, is a fellow survivor and was open about her own breast cancer journey. Looking radiant in an LK Bennett dress, she brought the house down with her stand-up routine, and took the time to chat with several PoL members. Naturally, we invited her to come and paddle with us, but her listeners on a Sunday morning would miss her radio show too much. We left her assured that, like everyone affected by breast cancer, she would always get a warm welcome, should she ever wish to visit the Pool of Life family.
2nd & 3rd July 2016…..Pool of Life have just completed a great ‘Race for Life’ weekend at Sefton Park!
On Saturday, 9 members of the team took the ‘Pretty Muddy‘ challenge and yes…..we got pretty muddy! We ran, jumped, climbed and slid our way round the 5k course crossing the finishing line hand in hand. We had the occasional shower of rain but all in all the weather was fine throughout the race. We had amazing support from the husbands who ended up carrying our valuables and running round the course with us!! They were also our official photographers, well done Peter, Ian, Alan & Bryan. And we raised a fantastic £435 for Cancer Research UK.
On Sunday we had our gazebo up with lots of information and items of interest for people to look at. The stall was very popular and hopefully we inspired some ladies to join us! We also helped out by marshalling the course, it was enjoyable helping out with queries, directing people and giving lots of encouragement to the participants. Definitely something we’d like to do again.
Pool of Life are thrilled to have been shortlisted as the potential Sainsbury’s charity partner of the year for Sainsbury’s on East Prescot Road. Liverpool L14 5PT.
This is a fantastic opportunity for us and we need your help !
If you can get into the store and vote that is fantastic but voting is also possible on line….voting is open now and will close Sunday 26th so please ACT NOW)……
Please can you use every device in your home (laptops, PCs, phone, tablet etc) and vote for us as follows:
- Log onto: sainsburyslocalcharity.co.uk
- Search for the East Prescot Rd store using post code L14 5PT and select this store
- Select Pool of Life and make sure you hit the submit button
Please share and pass on this request to all your friends and family too, every vote will help our chances!!
Here you can see us out campaigning at the East Prescot Road store….
Many thanks for your help and keep your fingers crossed for us!
Pool of Life
Easter 2016 saw Pool of Life members heading off to the sunshine in San Pedro del Pinatar in South-east Spain to take part in the town’s 4th international dragonboat festival. This year was particularly special for BCS racing in Spain as it coincided with the establishment of Spain’s first BCS team, Flamenco Rosa, based in Pinatar.
The festival made the BCS teams feel very welcome and organised a special BCS forum to enable the teams to meet each other and a member from each team was invited to deliver a short presentation on various aspects of their BCS journey and activities. Linda Smith delivered a presentation on behalf of Pool of Life, celebrating 12 years as a BCS dragon boat team and the wonderful experiences and opportunities that the sport has given us.
However, it was the racing that was the highlight of the event. The BCS element of the competition was the biggest to date, with 7 BCS teams taking part (from the UK, Italy, France, Canada and Spain) in full BCS and part-BCS races in small 10-man boats. The competition also had a stunning setting on the Mar Menor (“Little Sea”), a coastal saltwater lagoon which is the largest in Europe – although increasingly rough water conditions throughout the day added to the challenge and tested the nerves of the crews! Qualifying heats were held and then minor and major finals to determine the finishing places of the teams. Pool of Life were very proud and excited to win the overall BCS competition and 2nd in the part-BCS racing against some tough opposition and were awarded a beautiful trophy and medals.
As is the tradition at all BCS race events, the festival concluded with a moving flower ceremony.
Pool of Life would like say a big “hello” to all the lovely BCS ladies they met at the festival and look forward to seeing them all again in Florence in 2018!
11-13 September 2015: Pool of Life and supporters had a wonderful weekend in Dublin, taking part in their dragonboat regatta and racing again breast cancer teams from Dublin, elsewhere in Ireland, the UK and Italy (7 teams in total). The weather was mixed but that didn’t get in the way of a jolly good time!
Day 1 saw us in the 200m races in the ‘breast cancer survivor’ category. Our best 2 times were taken from 3 heats to determine who made it to the finals. The racing was very tight and we raced our socks off…our toughest competition was from Pleurabelles (the Dublin team) and Florence Dragon Lady, with some very slim margins between the teams. We won the 3rd place trophy.
A very moving Flower Ceremony’ involved all BCS boats coming together to remember those who have lost their battle with cancer and celebrate who we are. The Dash poem (by Linda Ellis) was recited to remind us that it it not the material things that matter in life, but the way that we spend our time on this earth.
Saturday evening gave us the opportunity to let our hair down, party with the other teams and have a good dance (and not too much Guinness – to save ourselves for Sunday’s racing!).
On Day 2, we took part in the 400m international ladies category, coming 5th out of 7 teams and 2nd out of the breast cancer teams (Pleurabelle 1st and Florence Dragon Lady 3rd). The weather was rather wet at times but didn’t dampen our spirits.
All in all a fantastic weekend and a great achievement for the whole team, making all that hard work at training worth while. Some great contacts were made with other BCS teams and hopefully this will lead to more events together in the future.
Pool of Life, with team members of Pink Champagne and Florence Dragon Lady
Breast cancer survivors’ dragon boating is an international movement inspired by the research of Canadian sports medicine specialist Don McKenzie (more info here). The team brought together for that research was called ‘Abreast in a Boat’ and are still paddling together 20 years later!
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of breast cancer survivor (BCS) dragon boat paddling, Abreast in a Boat invited BCS teams around the world to get out on the water on 13th June and send photos and film from the day. As the first BCS team in the UK, Pool of Life were keen to be involved and the photos below have been sent to mark the occasion.
Paddles up! Celebrating 20 years of Breast Cancer Survivor dragon-boating
Pool of Life, June 2015, 20th anniversary BCS celebrations
The Liver Birds!
Pool of Life and Amathus joined forces on 4th May to host their annual charity dragonboat festival. 18 teams had a fantastic day, lots of money was raised and some very competitive racing took place. See our main report here.
Pool of Life team raced at the festival