AS the Dragon Boat Race approaches, the Adver is urging the people of Swindon to support the 17 reporters, editors and sales consultants tirelessly training - for some - in preparation for the event.

The group is hoping to raise £1,000 for the 160 Appeal in aid of Prospect Hospice at the challenge and need your help to meet their ambitious target.

So far Adver staff have collected £800 thanks to a pub quiz, office fundraisers and a pair of courageous editors who cycled no fewer than 50km at the hospice’s annual bike ride.

While training has been slow to start for many, all efforts have been concentrated on fundraising and the 17-strong dream team certainly has not missed a trick in that department.

The race will take place at Coate Water on Sunday, June 29 and see teams hop into 40-foot long narrow boats oars at the ready before fighting for victory.

The team’s skipper Scott D’Arcy said: “We’re hoping for good blustery conditions and choppy waters to level the playing field for us. I would estimate about half of us have never so much as run 250m let alone row but at least we all get to sit down.

“I think our starboard side will be our strongest and we plan to have dazzling Where’s Wally-themed costumes to really give us the edge. Myself, I’m relishing the challenge of steering the boat across the line in as straight a line as possible and ultimately lifting the best fancy dress trophy.

“Of course the charity is the most imporatnt thing to remember so as long as we do them proud and raise at least £1,000 that’s all that matters.”

Features editor and writer Michelle Tompkins and Emma Dunn will join the Adver team just hours after completing Prospect’s Starlight Walk.

Michelle said: “I am doing it so I can have a go at banging the drum. I have never rowed in my life before but I recently did the Prospect Big Bike Ride – surely nothing can be as bad as that?”

And Emma added: “I’m taking part because I fancy the captain - and I want to raise money for an amazing cause. My training regime has been the bingo wings workout on my Davina McCall DVD.”

The Adver launched the 160 Appeal to mark its 160th anniversary in February and in a bid to raise £160,000 by the end of the year for Prospect Hospice.

So far the campaign has reached the £30,000 mark but donations are continuing to pour in for the charity.

The Wroughton charity must secure £5.8 million each year to continue caring for the people with life-limiting illnesses of Swindon and North Wiltshire. Yet it only receives less than 30 per cent of its income from statutory bodies such as the NHS to support a community of around 300,000 people.

£160,000 would help to pay for approximately 500 over-night stays in the hospice’s in-patient unit; that is 12 days at a time for 43 patients.

The sum would cover 6,400 hours of support of the 24-hour Prospect@Home service.

It would also fund counselling and support for 2,000 family members after the loss of a loved one or during their ongoing illness.



Emma Dunn, features writer

I am doing it because: I fancy the captain (and I want to raise money for an amazing cause). 

Training regime: I’ve been doing the bingo wings workout on my Davina DVD. 

Fitness level: Not too bad thanks to Davina The biggest challenge will be ...Keeping going until the end will be tough. I’m worried I’ll drop my oar or even worse, fall in with it.


Dominic Gilbert, reporter 

I am doing it because: Every effort helps for Prospect, and the Dragon Boat Race is something a little different to the usual walking, running or cycling sponsorship events.”

Training regime: Rowing training has not happened yet. I have been devoting my attentions to swimming training because I fully expect to end up in the water.

Fitness level: Low to none.

The biggest challenge will be: The hardest thing will likely be getting to the finish line. If the course involves going round and round in circles, our team might stand a chance.


Michelle Tompkins, features and supplements editor

I am doing it because: So I can have a go at banging the drum (please?)

Training regime: I have never rowed in my life before (does a pedalo count?), but I recently did the Prospect Big Bike Ride – surely nothing can be as bad as that?

Fitness level: Reasonable/reasonably bad. I get up off the sofa about once a week for a bike ride.

The biggest challenge will be: Keeping in time when I’m banging that drum. Either that or getting my hair wet.


Elizabeth Mackley, reporter

I am doing it because: I just love to get sunburnt on a Saturday.

Training regime: I lift sweets to my mouth repeatedly. At least three times a day.

Fitness level: Stodgy The biggest challenge will be not... Capsizing. Or equally, that could be the thing I am most looking forward to. It’s hard to say.


Mike Benke, reporter

I am doing it because: For me, the Dragon Boat Race means everything. As I was growing up, Redgrave and Pinsent were heroes of mine and I still have posters of them on my wall.

Training regime: I am in the middle of a rigorous training programme for the event. I get up at 4am morning everyday and spend several hours on Coate Water before heading to work. At the end of the day I will generally to between two and three hours intense cardio and weights. If all goes to plan I should hit my peak fitness around the weekend of the race.

The biggest challenge will be: For me the hardest thing will be the pressure. This is something I’ve been I have been working towards for a long time so I just hope on the day I can bring my A-game!


Marion Sauvebois, reporter

I am doing it because: I want to help a fantastic charity. And if I don’t take part I fear for my job!

Training regime: I walk to and from the fridge both at the office and at home several times a day.

Fitness level: Inexistent.

The biggest challenge will be: Not embarrassing myself in front of my colleagues by dropping my oar or falling overboard.


Joseph Theobald, media sales consultant

I am doing it because: I really want to show people that the local print press is still relevant, particularly as a means of holding our local council and parliamentary representatives to account. I think a Dragon Boat Race is the obvious method to convey this message.

Training regime: I’ve been watching a lot of films featuring dragons such as ‘Reign of Fire’, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ and ‘The Desolation of Smaug’. I’ve also been drinking a lot of Lucozade.

Fitness level: I’d say I am currently running at around 70 per cent of my optimum condition, I’ll be looking to peak for the main event.

The biggest challenge will be: I think the hardest thing will be controlling my competitive edge and not taking it too seriously or shouting at Gary (the editor) etc. The thing I dread the most? Probably being buried alive.


Josephine Logan, media sales consultant

I am doing it because: I had never heard of dragon boat racing before and thought it looked like a good laugh for a good cause!

Training regime: Training?! Ooops!

Fitness level: Hmm not as good as it should be!

The biggest challenge will be: Trying to go in sync with a team of people that haven’t had one training session against competitive teams! I’m dreading the capsizing into the unknown Coate water lake, who knows what’s in there! Eeek!



By cheque: With the donation form in the Adver By card: Online through the donate now button,

In cash: Prospect Hospice reception in Wroughton, Prospect Hospice retail shops or the Swindon Advertiser office are all taking payments Prospect Hospice can also take card donations over the phone – contact the fundraising team on 01793 816161

Taking part in an event for Prospect? Why not donate through our appeal – let us know via email on 160appeal@swindon or call us on 01793 501806.