You don’t have to be a works team to take part in the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival – clubs, friends and families can all get a team together for a good reason or a good cause.
One of this year’s teams taking on the ESP Motley Crew will be Christine’s Crazy Crew who are paddling in memory of their Mum.
Melissa Seims’ Dragon Boat crew have their eye on a prize too – they’re after the Fancy Dress trophy!
“We’re being realistic,” said Melissa. “We’re a family crew made up of 20somethings to 70somethings and we’re pretty sure, even if we trained really hard, we’d have no chance of winning a prize for speed.But we are busy hunting out flared trousers, platform boots and wigs so we can do the whole Abba-esque style fancy dress in memory of Mum.”
‘Mum’ is Christine Seims, Melissa’s Mum who was cared for and died at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough in February this year. She was admitted just two days after she and husband Peter marked their 47th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows at a special ceremony.
Melissa said: “Mum had a complication arising from kidney cancer and was admitted to Thorpe Hall for pain management which worked – within a week Dad was able to take Mum out shopping.”
Unfortunately by the end of the next week Christine’s condition had deteriorated dramatically.
“In those final days and hours as we all gathered at the hospice to say our final goodbyes, I noticed a poster advertising the Dragon Boat Festival,” said Melissa. “We sat by Mum’s bed all very emotional and almost in an effort to lighten the mood at a terrible time I made a flippant comment about us entering a team. The idea gave us an anchor at that time, it was something to hold on to for the future and a chance to celebrate the memory of Mum and raise funds for the Sue Ryder hospice who had been so kind to us all.”
Christine died a few days later on February 11. Melissa said: “The staff were just lovely. One of the nurses was in the room as Mum took her last breath and she couldn’t have treated her with more dignity.”
Melissa mentioned her Dragon Boat Festival suggestion to extended family members in the days after her Mum’s death. She said: “There was a lot of enthusiasm and before we knew it we had enough people pitching in to make up a team.”
On June 9, just two days before what would have been her 66th birthday, Christine’s family who’ve named themselves Christine’s Crazy Crew will take to the water at Peterborough Rowing Lake for the Dragon Boat Festival.
“Mum has three children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren and we’ll all be there on the day to either paddle in the boat or cheer from the bank,” said Melissa. “My Dad is going to be in the boat with Mum’s brother and one of her grandchildren so we’ll have a 50 year age span. In memory of Mum we’re going with an Abba-inspired fancy dress in the hope of winning the fancy dress title!”
Christine, who lived in Orton Malborne, Peterborough, had a long career spending time working for the NHS, social services and a charity.
The family are now busy fundraising on https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/ChristinesCrazyCrew with all the money they raise donated to Thorpe Hall Hospice. Melissa said: “Mum lived in Orton Malborne in Peterborough and worked for the NHS, children’s hospital at home as well as Age Concern (now Age UK) and social services. It seems fitting that her path of service to others was returned by Sue Ryder when she needed it the most.”
The family will be battling it out on the day against up to 52 crews including ESP’s Motley Crew at the 20th anniversary Festival organised by Gable Events. For the fourth year running Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is the Festival’s charity partner.
To get involved please visit www.sueryder.org/thorpedragon