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Here are the Rotary Rebels waiting for there first race!

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Nene Valley Dragon Boats 2018


The best day we have ever had,” said Chairman of the Dragon Boats event, A.G. Alan Armson, of Rushden Chichele Club, when he was asked to sum up the day. And it was true: we enjoyed the best of weather and a great turn out of visitors. Everyone appreciated the excellent organisation of the event as a whole and of the races in particular.


No one has to pay to come to watch the races but a donation is always welcomed and over £400 was counted out of the buckets. All the programmes were given out and stall holders reported brisk business (with Rotarians receiving a significant discount!)


The teams checked in on time - at 9.30am - this year a record 42 teams of rowers. After this the gruelling series of heats began with the fastest teams going on to the serious racing in the semi-finals and finals. The margins between success and “also raced” are small with the timings going down to fractions of a second. It’s exciting stuff with teams paddling to the drumbeat and with the occasional spill into the water. 


This year the winning team by the smallest of margins was ‘Domino's Effect’ who celebrated with the traditional champagne shower, second was ‘Rushden Rotary Rebels’ and third was the ‘Magnificent Mawsley Movers’. 


But let us give a thumping pat on the back to the team from Rushden Rotary Club. Admittedly they were mostly younger than the average Rushden Rotarian (so an excellent membership opportunity) but young Rushden President Ian was there in the boat and cheering with the best! Well done that man and congratulations to you and your team for rowing into a magnificent second place only fractions of a second behind the winners.



Everyone agreed it had been a great day for competitors and visitors alike. There were charity stalls, food, icecream and music to suit all tastes.

The weather was sunny and hot, the racing was nail-biting and the event was well organised - a feature commented on by everyone involved.  Gable Events, the professional organisers, made sure everyone enjoyed the fun and excitement and that everything ran smoothly. 


On the ground in the Control Tower were Air Vice Marshal Kendrick and Flt. Sgt. “sitting Bull” Wislon counting the monies and doling out exit tickets to the deserving. Waggish Rotarians referred to them as Laurel & Hardy or the Slim Controllers.  Jo Underwood (Congratulations on your recent marriage, Jo) was Aide de Toilets and was kept remarkably busy replenishing the programme-sellers collecting buckets, toilet rolls and picking up litter. Other Rotarians fielded difficult questions from the Chefs d’equipes and generally smiled at the crowds and kept them safe. It was all very well organised by the Rotary Teams under Alan Armson(the Dragon Boat’s Chairman who arrived at 6am and kept his finger on the button until past 6pm - what you might call “a good day’s work”! He must have felt totally kn***ered by the time he sat down to watch The Antiques Roadshow but there must also have been a warm glow knowing that his final event had been the best yet and that Alistair Cook wasn’t the only one who could break records.


The Nene Valley Dragon Boats Event, sponsored this year by the NAHL Group Ltd, is organised by 5 local Rotary Clubs: Corby Phoenix, Kettering, Kettering Huxlow, Rushden and Rushden Chichele. It has been a really successful fundraiser for our local Hospices and other charities supported by the clubs for the past nine years, with only one event (remember the total deluge at Lilford?) suffering from bad weather. It has raised in excess of £170,000 and this year’s event looks set to raise around another £30,000. Let’s hope that now Alan has retired as Chairman, another hard-working team will take the event forward into the 2020s.

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