On one particularly sunny Sunday in July I took part in York Rotary Club’s annual Dragon Boat Challenge supporting Family Fund. For those of you that don’t know, the York Dragon Boat Challenge sees 36 teams battle it out on the River Ouse in a long narrow boat with a carving of a dragon’s head on the front. A crew of 16 paddlers, paced by their drummer and guided by a helmsman, combine power and rhythm to race down the 250 metre course.

For dragon boating, each paddler must be in sync - sounds easy right? No, not at all! The boat must also be balanced perfectly and the slightest wrong move could see you taking a swim (for the record, this didn’t happen!). Now I’m not the sportiest guy in the world but I’ve taken part in a few team events in my life and never has the word ‘Teamwork’ meant so much. You win or lose, sink or swim as one team in a Dragon Boat. Sure, there are leaders, but there are no heroes. Everyone contributes, or no one succeeds. You are united, you have complete trust, and you cannot afford to hold back.

Having taken part in a Dragon Boat race before I was confident I knew what to expect, however this time it was different. This time I had the added pressure of fundraising for a charity that meant a lot to me. Having a young sister suffering from Cognitive Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Family Fund was a natural choice for me to fundraise for and I really wanted to do well. Seeing my sister battle CRPS on a daily basis is tough, but taking part in something like the Dragon Boat races made me feel like I was doing something important by tangibly making a difference.

We were set individual goals of £70 for each team member and I couldn’t believe how supported I felt! People I hadn’t seen in ages donated, I was overwhelmed with the positivity and love and we smashed our target, raising over £1,500!

So, fundraising completed, the day rolled around and I was on a team of Dragon Boat veterans and newbies alike all eager to defeat the competition and bring home glory for Family Fund! Timing, rhythm, power, reach forward and drop your shoulder. In and in and in and… not in a hurry, but not a single muscle can relax. My muscles burned and I had to remember to breathe, but there was no time! One minute and 30 seconds later and it was over. We’d won our first race!

My arms felt like spaghetti and I really needed some water (or something stronger!). From the shore I could see friends and family jumping up and down with excitement. And although we didn’t win the trophy we managed to win two of our races, fundraise for charity and have a brilliant day. What more could we want?

If you’re thinking of doing something to fundraise for Family Fund, do it! A run, a bake sale, a sponsored silence or even a Dragon Boat race, you’ll have an amazing time and raise money for an amazing charity - what more could you want?

Be a part of something because no matter what you do, it can literally change someone’s life!

To top it off a snap of my lovely bearded face made the papers the following morning!