Monday, 27 September 2021

Fierce racing at Regatta for the Disabled

MORE than 700 people flocked to the banks of the Thames for the sixth Regatta for the Disabled

MORE than 700 people flocked to the banks of the Thames for the sixth Regatta for the Disabled.

The annual event, which encourages access to the river for all, was held at Phyllis Court Club in Henley on Saturday.

Dozens of teams took part in dragon boat racing, many wearing fancy dress outfits.

Henley MP John Howell opened the regatta, while Mayor Lorraine Hillier presented the medals at the end of the event.

The winners were a team called Rogue Racing, while The Simpsons were runners-up and the award for enthusiasm was presented to Pride of Bishopswood, the team from Bishopswood Special School.

Rogue Racers were presented with the Dongola Challenge Cup, which was made in the 1890s and was originally awarded at the Cookham Amateur Regatta. The trophy was donated for the day by the River and Rowing Museum.

The crew from brain injury charity Headway dressed up as superheroes for the day, with characters including X-Men?s Wolverine, Superman and Bane, one of Batman?s enemies.

Visitors could take trips on the river on the Rivertime Boat Trust?s 42ft boat named Rivertime, which is wheelchair accessible, as well as boats from Hobbs of Henley.

Off the water, there were stalls and attractions including a petting zoo, a wheelchair-accessible climbing wall and a circus skills workshop.

Visitors could try rowing on an ergometer or take part in karaoke. There was also live music and food and drink stalls.

Mr Howell said: ?It was a great pleasure for me to be able to open the event again and to share in the sheer joy of those participating, particularly in the dragon boat racing.

?It is really important that the river is genuinely accessible to everyone.

?I congratulate the organisers of the regatta and those that have sponsored it for the excellent work they do in fostering this spirit.

?I am glad, too, that despite the event going from success to success each year, it has managed to retain the original spirit of the event. I hope that does not change.? Regatta chairman Ian Tritton said: ?The regatta is growing every year.

?The idea is to have accessible activity on the river and riverside for the less able-bodied which they can do with their friends and families.

?The Rivertime Blue, a bell boat, is capable of taking anyone as long as they can sit up and paddle, so they can take their family or carer with them.

Cllr Hillier attended the regatta with her escort and sister Susan George and fellow town councillor David Eggleton.

She said: ?I think the regatta is a fantastic event and we all had a lovely afternoon.

?Everyone was so passionate and we spoke to a lovely family whose son has cerebral pasly who have recently returned to Henley from America. They really enjoyed it. It?s for a really good event and we spent all afternoon there but I purposely wore my skirt so they couldn?t get me up the climbing wall!?

The Henley branch of Natwest presented the regatta with a cheque for £1,159 which was raised with a rowing challenge in the town centre last month.

The regatta was founded in 2010 by Jane Holmes, chief executive of the Building For The Future charity, and Louise Light, a volunteer with Headway. Both have disabled children.

Mrs Holmes stood down as chairwoman after the 2012 event and was replaced by Mr Tritton, from Rotherfield Peppard.

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