Wyke school secures funding for dragon boats

Pupils Damien Hields, Rhys Kittsen, and Lucy Wilby from Appleton Academy at Doe Park, Denholme with their new Dragon Long Boat

Pupils Damien Hields, Rhys Kittsen, and Lucy Wilby from Appleton Academy at Doe Park, Denholme with their new Dragon Long Boat

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , City Hall Reporter

The Oriental sport of Dragon Boating will soon be making a splash in Bradford, thanks to funding secured by three teenagers.

The trio from Appleton Academy in Wyke managed to secure a £20,000 grant for the boats, which will be kept at Doe Park water activity centre in Denholme.

They were inspired to bid for the Youth Opportunity Fund cash for their school after a team of their teachers became national Dragon Boat champions in 2011.

Five teachers from Appleton Academy and six staff members from Doe Park enjoyed the surprise victory at the British Dragon Boat National Finals in Nottingham, despite having only tried the sport a handful of times.

One of the teachers, outdoor education co-ordinator Katy Hebron, said they had showed the students a video of their adventures.

She said: “We created a video of what we did and showed the children, and they wanted a go – but the closest place that did Dragon Boating was Liverpool.”

So students Lucy Wilby, Rhys Kittsen and Damien Hields approached Bradford Council and successfully bid for the pot of cash to bring Dragon Boating to Bradford.

The money has been used to buy two £6,000 boats, which arrived at Doe Park yesterday. The funding will also pay for pupils’ transport.

Each craft is manned by a 12-strong team – ten people on the paddles, one beating a drum to keep time and one at the helm to steer.

The school hopes to introduce the Chinese sport to schools across Bradford, and to the public.

Mrs Hebron said: “Once we are up and running, there is an opportunity for other schools to get involved.”

Year 11 student Lucy Wilby said: “When we’ve gone around and told people about the Dragon Boats, people seem really interested.”

Mrs Hebron said they hoped to host an inter-school contest in September.

For more information, contact Doe Park on (01274) 833826 or e-mail doe.park@bradford.gov.uk.

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