Testimonial Image
Testimonial Image

David Buckland

I first met Bourne Water Dragons (BWD) at a Regatta at Cookham, where I was sailing with the Henley Dragon Boat Racing Team 2020. I was to move down to the Christchurch area, where I was keen to continue the sport. BWD seemed keen for me to assist the crew as a coach, helm and paddler. The offer was an opportunity to give back to the sport and the Bourne Water Dragons, where a number of the crew had suffered from cancer or were recovering from it.

BWD were keen to place me on a Level 2 Coaching course along with Bob King under the guidance and coaching of Tim Smith. Having successfully passed the qualification, I could take the boat and crew out under the British Dragon Boat procedures and policies in a safe manner.

The BWD's location is very different from Henley on Thames - the River Stour, being very winding, narrow, congested and tidal, opens up into Christchurch Bay, entirely exposed to the elements along with a slipway of over 35 degrees, every time we launch or recover the Dragon Boat. So, it is quite different to what I am used to.

There is a difference in the crew; BWD is an older, more experienced crew who have gone through health and fitness challenges. However, they all have very brave hearts and are always determined. My military manner and racing ethos were not everyone's choice.

On several occasions, I was reminded that the BWD crew was not a racing crew but a cancer support team, where there is a strong focus on socialising, welfare, reaching out and mutual support.

This aspect eventfully sank in, notwithstanding that water safety always comes first, with clear, concise commands, ensuring crew discipline is maintained, also ensuring fun, personal welfare, and promoting good moral and professional values. Working very closely with my BWD Helms, coaches, trustees and crew, we continue to succeed and surpass our goals, including launching our Dragon Boat for training sessions twice a week, developing paddling skills and techniques, and most recently, making the finals of the 2023 Cookham Regatta - but always with the focus on promoting mental and physical wellbeing.

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