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St Catherine’s Dragon Boat Festival a HUGE success



St Catherine’s Hospice Dragon Boat Festival burst back into Tilgate Park yesterday (10 September) for an ‘oar-some’ day of free, family fun.

The Worshipful Mayor of Crawley, Councillor Brian Quinn officially opened the event as crowds came out to cheer on more than 35 teams made up of local businesses including Crawley teams: A Band of Brothers, Avios, B&CE, CS Cable Jointing, CW Security, CAE, Harwoods, KPMG, Metrobus, OCS Tilgate, Outdoor Military Fitness (OMF), Search, St Catherine’s, The Hawth, Transvalair and Vines of Gatwick BMW and MINI.

Speaking before the race Charlotte Bruce from Metrobus, who also supplied a free park and ride bus for the festival, said:

“We’re taking part in today’s event as our staff and their families have used the hospice so for us, it’s a really important charity to support.”

Traditional fundraising stalls, like china smash and a coconut shy encouraged people of all ages to donate money to their local hospice, whilst an inflatable pirate course, biscuit decorating and surf simulator kept younger visitors entertained. People enjoyed food from a range of vendors and drinks from Sussex Events Bars, an onsite bar that served a special Dragon Spritz and gave a percentage of its profits to St Catherine’s.

The Hawth Team

On the lake, teams showed true team spirit as they battled it out in a series of races in Chinese Dragon Boats but it was Terry’s Paddlers who found their sea legs to be crowned the 15th Dragon Boat champions and take away this year’s trophy with a winning time of 59 seconds.

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Matt O’Leary, crew captain of Terry’s Paddlers said:

“It’s been such an amazing day! I’m really impressed with the event, so much goes into it, and we’re really proud to walk away with this year’s trophy.”

KPMG team

Coming in at second place was Assurity Consulting and taking third place was Vines Beemer who were reigning champions from last year. The winning teams were presented with medals and trophies by Terry O’Leary, Chair of Trustees at St Catherine’s.

Metrobus Team

St Catherine’s Dragon Boat Festival is one of the hospice’s biggest annual fundraisers and is on target to raise £50,000, to help St Catherine’s provide expert end of life care to local terminally ill people and their friends and family, when life comes full circle.

Terry Paddler’s – 2017 Dragon Boat Champions

Vines of Gatwick proudly sponsored the festival alongside entering a team. Darren Buche, MINI Sales Executive at Vines of Gatwick said:

“Once again, St Catherine’s Dragon Boat Festival was a fun-filled and energetic day! It was fantastic to see so many people come out to show their support and an ideal chance for us, as a local business, to show our gratitude for the work St Catherine’s does to help terminally ill people in our local community. Every year it’s a pleasure to be involved, and if your business missed out this year get yourself on the waitlist for next year. It really is an event not to be missed!”

OMF team shot

Suzanne Davis, Philanthropy Coordinator at St Catherine’s, said:

“We’d like to thank everyone who took part, volunteered or attended this year’s festival for helping us raise vital funds so we can continue to be there for people when they need us most.”

To find out about future St Catherine’s events, or how you can support the hospice, visit:

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Life-saving heart restarters fitted to over 50 Sussex stations

Amber Rudd MP and Home Secretary attended the opening event to unveil the new life-saving heart restarter at Southern’s Rye station.



Amber Rudd MP and Home Secretary unveils the new life-saving heart restarter at Southern's Rye station

Life-saving heart restarters have been fitted to over 50 stations across Sussex through a partnership between The Sussex Heart Charity (SHC) and Southern, owned and operated by Govia Thameslink Railway.

SHC first launched the programme two years ago as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations and has invested £100,000 in the programme.

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The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP helped celebrate the installation of one of the latest at Rye station on Friday (16 March) and heard that, by the summer, there will be an automated external defibrillator (AED) at either every station in the county and border towns or in the local community nearby.

Cardiac patient Steve Morris, whose life was saved by an AED, showed how easy the device is to use in a demonstration in Rye Station waiting room. SHC provided funding for his training and equipment to become a qualified Community Resuscitation Trainer.

Steve Morris demonstrating CPR at Rye station

Govia Thameslink Railway Chief Operating Officer Nick Brown said:

“This is a fantastic partnership that has the potential to save lives right across the county. Our railways are at the heart of our communities and it’s only right that they have the machinery to aid the hearts of an unfortunate passenger who may suffer a heart attack.”

Dr Rachael James, Consultant Cardiologist and Volunteer Co-Chair of The Sussex Heart Charity said:

“It is essential that defibrillation be administered as soon as possible following the cardiac arrest. If the heart does not return to a regular rhythm within 5-7 minutes, this fibrillation could be fatal. That is why fitting AEDs close by where they may be most needed is so helpful. Providing some form or basic life support (CPR), especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.”

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, said:

“I am delighted to have attended the launch of Sussex Heart Charity’s defibrillator campaign at Rye Station. The charity are doing fantastic work to install automated external defibrillators in train stations throughout Sussex. It is such an important initiative that could help save lives in our towns and I am pleased Rye station has become a part of it.”

Nick Brown, GTR Chief Operating Officer at the AED demonstration

The charity has provided the equipment, while GTR teams carried out the installation. The defibrillators are placed on the station where they can be reached by anyone from the village or town they are based in, meaning they can benefit the entire community and not just passengers on board Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink stations.

The defibrillators, which can restart a heart that has stopped or is beating arrhythmically due to a cardiac arrest or other condition, are automatic and provide step-by-step voice prompts so they can be used by anyone.

Terry Ayres, Chief Executive Officer at the Sussex Heart Charity, said:

“Projects such as this highlight the value of supporting local charities. We are really grateful to the people of Sussex who take part in our annual sponsored walk – attend our events throughout the year and support us through monthly giving and volunteering – enabling us to develop projects such as this that have a direct impact on them locally.”

Jason Palmer, Volunteer Director and Vice Chair of The Board of Trustees, said:

“I am eternally grateful to our former Chair and Director, Andy Forsyth, for having the faith in me to step up to Vice Chair and taking this project forward under the joint chairmanship of Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Rachel James and Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Mike Lewis.

“This was an initial idea of Ruth Forsyth as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations, a former director and board member of The Sussex Heart Charity, who suggested investigating the possibility of installing a defibrillator at her local Railway Station at Haywards Heath. My former career working for the railway and later central Government, enabled me to be well placed to renew industry and civil service friendships and develop one AED installation at Haywards Heath Station into a countywide project – covering all Sussex railway stations and probably a world first!”

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