Fresh from our trip to Florence, where we paddled among the finest breast cancer dragon boat teams in the world, we held an incredibly moving naming ceremony for our new boat.
We already have Hope, so it was fitting to call our new boat Faith.
Faith has been funded by the kindness and generosity of the customers of Sainsbury’s in East Prescot Road. Like all dragon boats, though, she came to us in slumber, with her eye needing to be dotted and her name to be given.
The invites went out:
Before everyone arrived, our friends from Amathus showed our beautiful new boats lots of love and attention, making her sparkle and putting on her new name
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The naming ceremony is something really special. It originated many centuries earlier, in China, and is aimed at waking the dragon to ensure everyone in the boat is kept safe but has the power of the dragon when facing the harshest of weather. Along with our invite, we sent out these instructions:
“Welcome to the naming ceremony and eye-dotting ceremony of our new boat, Faith. Buying a boat was one of our fundraising aims, and our partnership with Sainsbury’s has helped to make that happen.
It is with delight that our treasurer, Sue Banner, will be conducting the ceremony, but it is a ceremony for all of us, and you are invited to take an active part. This is a floating support team, and we work best when we all work together.
As you arrived you were given some ‘hell money’ and a fortune cookie. As you wait for everyone please feel free to open your cookie and read your forecast. Please keep your ‘hell money’ to hand, as you will use it soon. Feel free to fold the money into an interesting shape.
Faith has already been dressed with her head, tail and drum. This was done by willing volunteers from the group, and should be done for every pink paddle going forward. The dragon signifies our strength, power and safety while in both hope and faith. Having this new boat will allow us to welcome even more people, whether bcs, living with secondaries, undergoing treatment or a supporter. It is a joy to have two boats out on the water, and a joy we aim to achieve for our pink paddles.
Members of Pool of Life will be asked to lead the procession to the bottom stairs. We ask that all members remain on the stairs, creating a tunnel, through which Sue, Ann and Dai will travel. Please raise your paddle in the air, to create a paddle salute, ensuring they are high enough for our trustees to walk through.
One of our trustees will be carrying a pink metal bucket. As they pass, please place your folded ‘hell money’ into the bucket, keeping your paddle raised. As the trustees pass you, please join the procession, starting with the paddler at the top of the stairs. This is a ceremony of love, kindness and happiness, so feel free to take the shoulder of the person in front, and offer encouragement to each other. We are together to support each other. Once everyone is on the pontoon, the ceremony with begin.
As is the tradition of the naming and eye-dotting ceremony, the boat is blessed, followed by the naming ceremony and then the eye dotting ceremony..
With a stick of incense in her hand, Sue – and everyone – will bow three times to the boat, and three times to the open water. This is the way we show respect to the dragon and to the water. The ‘hell money’ will then be set alight, showing the sacrifice we are willing to make for good fortune to come our way.
It is then time to name our boat. For luck, the name has been covered with a red cloth. Sue will approach the red cloth, and say the following:
From this moment, this boat shall be named Faith.
A blessing to all who paddle her.
She will unveil her name, amid cheers from all of us. She will then awaken the dragon.
Standing in front of the head of the dragon, Sue will be given some red paint and a paintbrush. As she puts a dot of paint on five points of the dragon she will say:
Eyes: please awaken this golden dragon.
Tips of horns or forehead: bless this world with peace and harmony.
Tongue: bless the crews with winning spirit.
The paddlers will now be asked to load the boat. Sue and the trustees will remain on the dry land. The paddlers will paddle Faith backwards for a distance, and then paddle hard towards the pontoon. They will do that three times. By doing so, the dragon, which is now fully awakened, will be showing its respect and thanks to Sue.
The boat will be paddled once around the dock, familiarising itself with its new home.
This is the end of the ceremony. From this moment, this boat shall be named faith and will join hope in being a much loved part of the pool of life family.”
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Since naming Faith, she has been used in all our training sessions. We are delighted to welcome more and more paddlers to the dock, and often have two boats out on the water. We have been able to have a taster day for some of our wonderful doctors and health care professionals, and enjoyed many hours on the water.
Faith will be out again on the first Sunday of the month, every month of the year. We always welcome members, new and old. Why not come and join in the fun?