Dragon boats ready for canal challenge

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A canal route through Wigan will be awash with colour and noise next month as intrepid boaters take on an endurance challenge for a charity cause.

Two dragon boat crews aim to travel the length of the Leeds-Liverpool canal in the space of one week with two days of the gruelling itinerary taking them through the borough.

The feat is all in aid of a North West Blood Bikers service, a group of volunteers who transport vital medical supplies between hospitals.

Organiser Jeff Quirk told the Evening Post he believes it will be the first time the route will have been completed by dragon boats.

He said: “Any support in Wigan on our route through will be greatly appreciated, we will arrive in the borough on May 2 from Liverpool and then spend the night here and travel on to Chorley the following day.

“The competitors have worked extremely hard not only to complete this unique, unprecedented event, but also in the raising of funds that will go directly to a worthy cause.

“Blood bikers receive no funding whatsoever and is manned completely by volunteers, the service they provide is a vital one and we want to raise as much as we can.”

Travelling the 128 mile route, complete with more than 90 locks, swing bridges and tunnels, the two crews will each include 16 paddlers, one helmsman and one drummer.

Given that the route is a trans-pennine one, it is also fitting that the two crews are from opposite sides of the divide being Crusaders DBC (based in Crosby, Merseyside) and Bradford Barracudas (Denholme, Bradford).

The boats - 12 metre long fully dressed dragon boats with heads and tails - are sure to provide an exciting spectacle as they make their way through from Parbold, through the centre of town past Wigan Pier and out towards Haigh onto Chorley.

Often described as the unseen emergency service, The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikers (NABB) transport medical supplies such as blood, plasma, x-ray results, donor breast milk and small medical instruments between hospitals.

For more information visit http://nwbb-mers.org/