Welcoming Faith to our Family

Fresh from our trip to Florence, where we paddled among the finest breast cancer dragon boat teams in the world, we held an incredibly moving naming ceremony for our new boat.

We already have Hope, so it was fitting to call our new boat Faith.

Faith has been funded by the kindness and generosity of the customers of Sainsbury’s in East Prescot Road. Like all dragon boats, though, she came to us in slumber, with her eye needing to be dotted and her name to be given.

The invites went out:

Before everyone arrived, our friends from Amathus showed our beautiful new boats lots of love and attention, making her sparkle and putting on her new name

The naming ceremony is something really special. It originated many centuries earlier, in China, and is aimed at waking the dragon to ensure everyone in the boat is kept safe, but has the power of the dragon when facing the harshest of weather. Along with our invite, we sent out these instructions:

“WELCOME TO THE NAMING CEREMONY AND EYE-DOTTING CEREMONY OF OUR NEW BOAT, FAITH. BUYING A BOAT WAS ONE OF OUR FUNDRAISING AIMS, AND OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH SAINSBURY’S HAS HELPED TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.
IT IS WITH DELIGHT THAT OUR TREASURER, SUE BANNER, WILL BE CONDUCTING THE CEREMONY, BUT IT IS A CEREMONY FOR ALL OF US, AND YOU ARE INVITED TO TAKE AN ACTIVE PART. THIS IS A FLOATING SUPPORT TEAM, AND WE WORK BEST WHEN WE ALL WORK TOGETHER.
AS YOU ARRIVED YOU WERE GIVEN SOME ‘HELL MONEY’ AND A FORTUNE COOKIE. AS YOU WAIT FOR EVERYONE PLEASE FEEL FREE TO OPEN YOUR COOKIE AND READ YOUR FORECAST. PLEASE KEEP YOUR ‘HELL MONEY’ TO HAND, AS YOU WILL USE IT SOON. FEEL FREE TO FOLD THE MONEY INTO AN INTERESTING SHAPE.
FAITH HAS ALREADY BEEN DRESSED WITH HER HEAD, TAIL AND DRUM. THIS WAS DONE BY WILLING VOLUNTEERS FROM THE GROUP, AND SHOULD BE DONE FOR EVERY PINK PADDLE GOING FORWARD. THE DRAGON SIGNIFIES OUR STRENGTH, POWER AND SAFETY WHILE IN BOTH HOPE AND FAITH. HAVING THIS NEW BOAT WILL ALLOW US TO WELCOME EVEN MORE PEOPLE, WHETHER BCS, LIVING WITH SECONDARIES, UNDERGOING TREATMENT OR A SUPPORTER. IT IS A JOY TO HAVE TWO BOATS OUT ON THE WATER, AND A JOY WE AIM TO ACHIEVE FOR OUR PINK PADDLES.
THE CEREMONY
MEMBERS OF POOL OF LIFE WILL BE ASKED TO LEAD THE PROCESSION TO THE BOTTOM STAIRS. WE ASK THAT ALL MEMBERS REMAIN ON THE STAIRS, CREATING A TUNNEL, THROUGH WHICH SUE, ANN AND DAI WILL TRAVEL. PLEASE RAISE YOUR PADDLE IN THE AIR, TO CREATE A PADDLE SALUTE, ENSURING THEY ARE HIGH ENOUGH FOR OUR TRUSTEES TO WALK THROUGH.
ONE OF OUR TRUSTEES WILL BE CARRYING A PINK METAL BUCKET. AS THEY PASS, PLEASE PLACE YOUR FOLDED ‘HELL MONEY’ INTO THE BUCKET, KEEPING YOUR PADDLE RAISED. AS THE TRUSTEES PASS YOU, PLEASE JOIN THE PROCESSION, STARTING WITH THE PADDLER AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS. THIS IS A CEREMONY OF LOVE, KINDNESS AND HAPPINESS, SO FEEL FREE TO TAKE THE SHOULDER OF THE PERSON IN FRONT, AND OFFER ENCOURAGEMENT TO EACH OTHER. WE ARE TOGETHER TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER. ONCE EVERYONE IS ON THE PONTOON, THE CEREMONY WITH BEGIN.
AS IS THE TRADITION OF THE NAMING AND EYE-DOTTING CEREMONY, THE BOAT IS BLESSED, FOLLOWED BY THE NAMING CEREMONY AND THEN THE EYE DOTTING CEREMONY..
WITH A STICK OF INCENSE IN HER HAND, SUE – AND EVERYONE – WILL BOW THREE TIMES TO THE BOAT, AND THREE TIMES TO THE OPEN WATER. THIS IS THE WAY WE SHOW RESPECT TO THE DRAGON AND TO THE WATER. THE ‘HELL MONEY’ WILL THEN BE SET ALIGHT, SHOWING THE SACRIFICE WE ARE WILLING TO MAKE FOR GOOD FORTUNE TO COME OUR WAY.
IT IS THEN TIME TO NAME OUR BOAT. FOR LUCK, THE NAME HAS BEEN COVERED WITH A RED CLOTH. SUE WILL APPROACH THE RED CLOTH, AND SAY THE FOLLOWING:
FROM THIS MOMENT, THIS BOAT SHALL BE NAMED FAITH.
A BLESSING TO ALL WHO PADDLE HER
SHE WILL UNVEIL HER NAME, AMID CHEERS FROM ALL OF US. SHE WILL THEN AWAKEN THE DRAGON.
STANDING IN FRONT OF THE HEAD OF THE DRAGON, SUE WILL BE GIVEN SOME RED PAINT AND A PAINTBRUSH. AS SHE PUTS A DOT OF PAINT ON FIVE POINTS OF THE DRAGON SHE WILL SAY:
EYES: PLEASE AWAKEN THIS GOLDEN DRAGON.
TIPS OF HORNS OR FOREHEAD: BLESS THIS WORLD WITH PEACE AND HARMONY.
TONGUE: BLESS THE CREWS WITH WINNING SPIRIT
THE PADDLERS WILL NOW BE ASKED TO LOAD THE BOAT. SUE AND THE TRUSTEES WILL REMAIN ON THE DRY LAND. THE PADDLERS WILL PADDLE FAITH BACKWARDS FOR A DISTANCE, AND THEN PADDLE HARD TOWARDS THE PONTOON. THEY WILL DO THAT THREE TIMES. BY DOING SO, THE DRAGON, WHICH IS NOW FULLY AWAKENED, WILL BE SHOWING ITS RESPECT AND THANKS TO SUE.
THE BOAT WILL BE PADDLED ONCE AROUND THE DOCK, FAMILIARISING ITSELF WITH ITS NEW HOME.
THIS IS THE END OF THE CEREMONY. FROM THIS MOMENT, THIS BOAT SHALL BE NAMED FAITH AND WILL JOIN HOPE IN BEING A MUCH LOVED PART OF THE POOL OF LIFE FAMILY.”

Since naming Faith, she has been used in all our training sessions. We are delighted to welcome more and more paddlers to the dock, and often have two boats out on the water. We have been able to have a taster day for some of our wonderful doctors and health care professionals, and enjoyed many hours on the water.

Faith will be out again on the first Sunday of the month, every month of they year. We always welcome members, new and old. Why not come and join in the fun?

Dragons and Flowers Festival 2018

In glorious sunshine, teams from as far afield as Bournemouth and Donegal came together to join in the 2018 Dragons and Flowers event. As ever, the Pool of Life members worked tirelessly to ensure everyone got a real flavour of what it is like to be in a boat, paddle as a team and – for some – cross the finish line in first place. Without the support of members of Amathus, who helmed, gave safety briefings, took photos and acted as race officials, a day such as Dragons and Flowers could not take place. We are indebted to them, and say a huge thank you from all of us.

But the true stars of the day were our competitors, some of whom have been coming back to the event year after year. The sense of competition was palpable, with everyone checking their times for every race, trying to guess who would be in the final.

And what a final it was! Four teams took part – Water Co, Janet’s Gym, the Rotary club and Merseycare. All four had been paddling at sub 1min50 times, and all have taken part in the event before. It could not have been a more closely fought out race, or more exciting finale if we have scripted it. In fact, if we had scripted it, it would have seemed unbelievable. Just one second separated the winners, from the team which came in fourth place. Here’s a video taken from the pontoon:

As you can see, Water co looked like they were taking the trophy home, but at the very last second, they were beaten by all the other competing boats. Here’s the photo finish, showing just how close a race it was.

Well done Merseycare. Remember, we expect to see you back next year, to defend your title.

Whenever we have events such as Dragons and Flowers, we have some fantastic people who take photos for us and share them with us. Here are some of the photos taken by supporters on the day:

 

One of our Amathus paddlers, Edwin Robson, took pictures of the whole day and has kindly shared them with us through his Flickr account. Here are just a couple of his fabulous photos, but for all the rest please click here

For everyone in Pool of Life, one of the most special parts of the day was the chance to race against three other Breast Cancer survivor’s dragon boat teams and share our flower ceremony with all these awesome women.

Members from Pink Champagne, Paddlers for Life, Donegal Dragons and Pool of Life all came together to take a minute to remember those who are sadly not with us any more. As the whole dock sat in silence, one of our supporters took a photo of the only cloud to grace the sky in the whole of the day.

 I can clearly see the nose and eye of a dragon, and perhaps it was sent by those who watch over us, their love never far away.

All that remains for us to say is a massive, massive thank you to all who came along to the event, got into the spirit of the day and made it such a glorious memory to look back on for many years to come.

2018 IBCPC Dragon Boat Festival, Florence, Italy

Some members of Pool of Life were recently honoured to take part in an event which aimed to turn Florence pink for a weekend. Every four years teams like Pool of Life, who have members who have survived breast cancer, are undergoing treatment for the disease or are living with a secondary breast cancer diagnosis, gather for a weekend of celebration, competition and contemplation.

Pool of Life took part in a parade through the streets of Florence, four races over two days and the flower ceremony. We spent time and chatted to, teams from 129 groups, spread over 17 nations. Breast cancer united us all. Our supporters, many of whom have walked with us through our whole journey, had their own race, giving us an opportunity to turn the table and cheer them on for a change.

There were thousands of photos taken, with links to them below, but here are a few we took ourselves:

Well done Pool of Life, and well done to all those who have supported us and helped with all the fundraising we did to get us there. We are indebted to all of you.

Here are the links to some of the official pages for the event

Florence festival

Pool of Life on parade

Pool of Life Florence Festival

Youtube video

2018 IBCPC Florence festival

Pool of Life gets a new boat

Thanks to the charity fundraising efforts with Sainsbury’s East Prescot Road, Pool of Life have been able to purchase a new boat. Our existing boat, Hope, has welcomed hundreds of breast cancer survivors and supporters and will continue to do so.

The new boat will enable us to get even more people out on the water, to train with us and join in with us. As with every new dragon boat, there is to be a naming ceremony for her, and names are currently being considered, It is hoped that the naming ceremony will take place either at our Pink Paddle in August or our paddle in September.

The naming ceremony, which includes the dotting of the eye, is an important part of the dragon boat culture. When the eye of the dragon is dotted, it is believed that the dragon is awakened, and will be in the boat forevermore, bringing its power and safety to all who paddle in her.

On a warm summer day, with the help of the people from Amathus and Team GB, the boat was launched into the dock and paddled to her new home by two Pool of Life members.

Some of our members were lucky enough to take her out for a paddle through the Queens Dock, although she had yet to be dressed in her head, tail and drum. As soon as she has had her naming ceremony she will be used for all our Pink paddles, and hopefully for many events in future years

BDA event 29 April 2018

Pool of Life recently took part in a BDA event at the water sports centre. They competed in the ladies category, against a number of other teams, some of whom have qualified to represent GB in upcoming international events. The weather was gloomy and the conditions were difficult, but it was great practice for the team. Here are some of the best shots of the day:

Many thanks to Edwin Robson from Amathus for taking such great pictures