Paddles at the ready – countdown to Ipswich’s first ever Dragon Boat Festival begins

Fresh Start - new beginnings are holding a dragon boat race later this year. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Fresh Start - new beginnings are holding a dragon boat race later this year. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Dragon boats emblazoned with dazzling designs will add a splash of colour to Ipswich Waterfront as they race down the river Orwell this summer.

Some of the organisers behind Ipswich's first Dragon Boat race. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Some of the organisers behind Ipswich's first Dragon Boat race. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Excitement is building for Ipswich’s first ever Dragon Boat Festival on June 2 – and with just eight weeks to go, demand for places is high.

Paddling down the river to the beat of a drum, challengers will make a splash in a bid to collect thousands of pounds for children’s charity Fresh Start – new beginnings (FSNB).

Kicking off a countdown to the event yesterday, bosses at the organisation said they experienced a big wave of entries, so have opened up the event to even more participants.

FSNB currently works with around 200 children – with 40 on their waiting list – many of whom have been sexually abused.

Linda Pipe, Jerry Coleman and David Hockley help to launch the event. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Linda Pipe, Jerry Coleman and David Hockley help to launch the event. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Volunteers support youngsters by helping them take away feelings of blame, shame and guilt.

Fundraiser Patsy Johnson-Cisse said: “We are so very pleased with the response from the public of people wanting to enter teams in the Dragon Boat race.

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“We hope to raise £10,000 in sponsorship on the day and when you think it costs about £2,500 to work with a child waiting for our service, just £2,500 to help rebuild a child’s future that means we can help four more children waiting for our help.

“That’s only £2,500 to give a child, a family, hope to start looking forward.

Ipswich's first Dragon Boat Festival will be held at the Waterfront on June 2. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich's first Dragon Boat Festival will be held at the Waterfront on June 2. Picture: GREGG BROWN

She added: “The more teams who sign up to take part, the more children we can help.”

School pupils and pub landlords are among those already signed up for teams and squads, who will compete against each other in a series of gruelling challenges to claim the winning title.

But the festivities do not stop there – an all-day riverside extravaganza will accompany the races, with activities such as colouring competitions and face painting brightening up spectator areas.

Ipswich Haven Marina and ABP are also offering crowds the chance to try dragon boat racing on dry land.

FSNB's boats are being designed by Race the Dragon, and will look similar to these vessels construct

FSNB's boats are being designed by Race the Dragon, and will look similar to these vessels constructed by Gable Events at a previous Dragon Boat Race at Alton Water. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

ABP divisional manager Paul Ager said: “We are thrilled to be helping this small children’s charity doing extraordinary work locally.

“The Ipswich Waterfront is the ideal location to host the race due to its proximity to local businesses and restaurants, which means all participants will be able to enjoy the day to the fullest.

“Our team is excited to be taking part in the race and to raise funds for charity, while at the same time having fun competing against local businesses.

“We hope that the Dragon Boat Festival will become an annual fixture on the Ipswich fun event calendar and are pleased to be able to help and support FSNB.”

FSNB's boats are being designed by Race the Dragon, and will look similar to these vessels construct

FSNB's boats are being designed by Race the Dragon, and will look similar to these vessels constructed by Gable Events at a previous Dragon Boat Race at Alton Water. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Visit the FSNB website for further details.

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