Preston Dragons cruise their way to the Premier League

The Preston Dragons team have it to the Premier League.
The Preston Dragons team have it to the Premier League.

A Preston dragon boat racing team is celebrating after cruising its way to the Premier League.

Members of Preston Dragons have been sampling a special edition "Dragons Brew" Session IPA at Preston-based micro-brewery Beer Bros, which will soon be available at the Marina.

The Preston dragon boat racing team celebrated by sampling a new ale made in their honour.

The Preston dragon boat racing team celebrated by sampling a new ale made in their honour.

The special drink was launched to celebrate the team's victory in the British Dragon Boat Racing Association Standard League last season, which it won after running for less than four years.

David Holt, club chairperson, says dragon boat racing involves paddling in pairs in a boat seating up to 20 people.

Commenting on their competition success, he added: "It's quite an achievement for such a young club. It takes a lot of effort and commitment to training. We train three times a week."

David says the sport is "demanding" but accessible to everyone, no matter their skill level. Members range in age from 10-years-old to 70-odd, one lady is blind and some participants are breast cancer survivors.

Left to right are members Dee Cartledge, Anne and David Holt, James Crooks, Paul Midgley, and Donna Clifford.

Left to right are members Dee Cartledge, Anne and David Holt, James Crooks, Paul Midgley, and Donna Clifford.

In fact, David's wife Anne took up dragon boating in 2005 to help strengthen her upper body after being diagnosed with breast cancer and enduring gruelling chemotherapy.

She said: "It's been life-changing. I can't imagine life without paddling. It's made me stronger physically but the biggest gain has been psychological, as I've met people further down the line in their breast cancer recovery and I've seen people do survive."

It is also the camaraderie and togetherness of the club that has helped her, she added.

"It's given me and David such a unique bond because it's something we can do alongside each other," she said.

"Everyone in the team is equally important and we're paddling together."

Their teamwork also helped them to take sixth place overall in their first ever international competition at the European Dragon Boat Federation tournament in Barcelona last June and has landed them in the running for Club of the Year at the 2020 Preston Sports Awards at Preston North End's Invincibles Lounge on Friday, March 20.

Other future events include a traditional Chinese dragon boat eye-dotting ceremony on Saturday, April 11, a taster event for ages 12-18 on Saturday, April 4, and a dragon boat tournament at Preston Docks on Saturday, May 9 in aid of Galloway's and Brian House Children's Hospice.

To join the group, which is looking to create a youth team, visit Preston Marina on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 6pm, and Saturday mornings at 10am.

For more information, search for the group on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or visit www.prestondragons.org