Plurabelle Paddlers – Guinness Projects Winner

Plrabelle PaddlersThe Plurabelle Paddlers are the third of the three projects announced this week as  winners in the Sports Category of the Arthur Guinness Projects.

One in 12 Irish women will develop breast cancer and keeping physically fit after treatment reduces the risk of reoccurrence by as much as 40%.  But when Fiona Tiernan and Marian O’Dea faced their own battles, they had to discover this for themselves.

They researched how best to regain and maintain fitness and discovered the world of dragon boat racing.  It develops upper body strength and is almost tailored by design to help people recover their spirit and their ability to fight back.

The Plurabelle Paddlers were founded in 2010 and through fundraising, some small sponsorship and a lot of good will and effort have grown into a group that now helps over sixty women aged from in their 30’s to their 70’s to ‘get back in the game’.

They persuaded a local landlord in Ringsend to give them use of a clubhouse on the Grand Canal basin at no charge and bought two boats.

They train twice a week from March to September and have made a real impact in the lives of those who have joined so far.

The funding from the Arthur Guinness Projects will allow them to buy winter equipment so they can keep their twice a week regime going through the cold and dark months ahead, but also, and even more importantly help establish and grow similar clubs around the country.

The natural urge when struck by cancer is to retreat and to be wrapped in cotton wool.  This exercise was never their first choice when feeling sick and tired after treatment but it is one that has already and will continue to make a huge positive difference in their lives.

Of all the projects submitted over the course of the first year of the campaign, this was one that struck the judges as being among the most powerful.

The fact that in their darkest moments these women had decided to stand up and fight for their own right to a fitter and healthier future can inspire hundreds if not thousands of others and make a huge positive contribution to Irish society.

The winning projects were chosen by a combination of public vote and the recommendation of an expert panel of judges including Donegal Football manager Jim McGuinness, Broadcaster Matt Cooper, Sarah O’Connor of the Federation of Irish Sport and Rob Hartnett of Sport for Business.

Sport for Business and Ulster Bank will host a Sponsorship Showcase event in Dublin on Tuesday, October 8th  2013.  Click here for more details.

Over the past days we have looked back on the three projects to win funding in the sports category in 2013.   The Plurabelle Paddlers, Club Colours and Accessing the Ocean can inspire others to get prepared for when the 2014 round of funding opens again next summer.

Next week we will consider some of the other submitted projects who did not make the final three but which will hopefully have learned from the experience of being involved.

The Arthur Guinness projects will run again in 2014. It is never too early to start thinking if a project you are involved in, that has sport at its heart and which can show a clear benefit for communities and society, might be suitable for submission.

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