Dragon boat is hard to beat

IT might seem like the last thing a local breast cancer support group would need to raise awareness and funds.

But a garish pink dragon boat – more at home on the Yangtze than the Forth – will help women affected by the disease across the area.

Paddlers for Life was set up by Bonnyrigg woman Andrina Gordon, herself a former breast cancer patient, and has already signed up dozens of participants across the Lothians.

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A fundraising campaign was launched last year to acquire a dragon boat after a partner organisation in Windermere brought its up for a trial beneath the Forth bridges.

Now the vessel has been delivered and will be launched on Sunday, with the club hoping that it gives breast cancer patients from the Lothians a chance to get together to both socialise and build their post-treatment fitness.

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Crucially, the brightly coloured 22-capacity boat will draw attention on a waterway more accustomed to cruise ships, oil boats and yachts.

Ms Gordon, 55, from Bonnyrigg, learned of the idea after being diagnosed for the second time in 2010.

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Her physio told her there were no similar groups in Scotland, so she ought to set one up herself.

“It’s fantastic news and a massive step forward for us,” said the club’s chairwoman.

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“It has been a bit of a long process, and it’s really hard to keep people interested in the group without being able to actually offer them anything.

“But hopefully the water will be calm enough on Sunday and we can get going.”

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It is hoped a second boat can be bought so teams of women can race against each other.

Thanks to local fundraising and a hefty investment from the lottery’s Awards for All scheme the boat was ordered a month ago from a maker in Poland. It arrived earlier this week at Port Edgar in South Queensferry.

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Ms Gordon added: “It certainly turned a few heads coming through the Eurotunnel.

“Hopefully it will turn a few heads on the Forth too, because raising awareness is really important.

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“We’ve got a lady whose treatment means she’s not quite ready to row, but she can bang the drum on board. People will see us and that will allow us to just grow and grow.”

It is hoped the boat can get some exposure to the water before winter.

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At that point, the dragon head at the front of the boat will be painted, making it even more eyecatching.

“We need at least 12 people for the boat to sail safely on Sunday, so hopefully we can get that,” she added.

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Members of the public are welcome at the launch, which will be at Port Edgar at 11am.