PRESS RELEASE: Dragon Boats help those affected by breast cancer

Lagan Dragons hold a commemorative ceremony for two new dragon boats.

Lagan Dragons, Northern Ireland’s only dragon boat team for people affected by breast cancer, has celebrated the arrival of two new boats, thanks to a grant from breast cancer charity, Walk the Walk.

At a special ‘Awakening the Dragon’ ceremony, today (Saturday 1 September), Nina Barough CBE, Walk the Walk’s Founder and Chief Executive, joined members of the Lagan Dragons team at Belfast Boat Club. Those involved in the event carried out an ancient Chinese ritual to bring the boats to life and wish good fortune to the team.

The two new 40ft dragon boats, which can each hold 22 people, feature Walk the Walk’s iconic pink bra logo in recognition of the contribution from the charity.

Walk the Walk raises funds through its famous MoonWalk events, where walkers take on marathon challenges in London, Edinburgh and Iceland at Midnight wearing brightly decorated bras. It was after taking part in The MoonWalk London that Lagan Dragons Captain Joanne Rock decided to apply for a grant for her team.

Lagan Dragons was founded by Joanne Rock, a survivor of breast cancer.  Starting in 2015, the team now has more than 60 members. The club aims to help those affected by breast cancer by providing support, improving fitness, and raising awareness.

Dragon Boat paddling for people affected by breast cancer began more than 20 years ago thanks to a discovery from Dr. Don McKenzie at the University of British Columbia. He challenged medical thinking that women treated for breast cancer should avoid rigorous upper body exercise for fear of developing lymphedema. Dr. McKenzie developed a program, introducing and training people affected by breast cancer to dragon boat paddle for three months. At the end of the season on the water, none of the volunteers had lymphedema and their emotional wellbeing had improved as well.

Nina Barough CBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Walk the Walk said: “Walk the Walk’s purpose is to make a difference for breast cancer survivors, whether through research or supporting people. It is important to us that the money we raise at our main events goes far and wide, and we are thrilled to be able to grant this contribution to Northern Ireland.

“What is lovely about today is that you can really see the impact that it is making, and that’s wonderful. The link between these ladies is breast cancer but they have turned it into something really positive.”

Joanne Rock, captain of Lagan Dragons said: “It is so good to exercise beyond a breast cancer diagnosis. We know that exercise is good and exercising with a group is even better. It is a privilege to be able to exercise in nature and exercising in water is nothing short of magical. It calms our fears, settles our minds and helps prepare us to face whatever lies ahead.”

Walk the Walk has raised more than £127 million since 1996, with the money granted funding both research into breast cancer and to help improve the lives of those living with cancer now.




For more information, photographs and quotes, contact: Lauren Penman or Sinead Doyle at MCE Public Relations 

[email protected] / [email protected]

028 9026 7099      


Lagan Dragons 1& 3

Nina Barough CBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Walk the Walk performed a commemorative Awakening The Dragon ritual on the two new dragon boats purchased by Lagan Dragons. Belfast’s only breast cancer survivor dragon boat team recently received a grant from breast cancer charity Walk the Walk, in order to purchase new boats Stella and Aurora.

Lagan Dragons 2,4 & 5

Lagan Dragons, Belfast’s only breast cancer survivor dragon boat team set sail on two new dragon boats at the Awakening The Dragon ceremony on 1 September 2018. Lagan Dragons recently received a generous grant from breast cancer charity Walk The Walk in order to purchase new dragon boats for the team.

Notes to editors:

Lagan Dragons

  • Lagan Dragons is Northern Ireland’s first and only breast cancer survivor dragon boat team, founded in 2015. Members range from age 30-70+ years.
  • The club Captain and founding member is Joanne Rock, a fully qualified Irish Dragon Boat Association (IDBA) Helm and Coach. Joanne also won the Belfast Telegraph ‘Game Changer’ Award for sport in 2018
  • The club’s vision is to encourage those who have been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer to join the team so that they can benefit from regular exercise in a fun and supportive team environment. The team also raises awareness of breast cancer in women and men of all ages.
  • To find out more about the Lagan Dragons, visit com or @Lagandragons on Facebook or Twitter.

Walk the Walk

  • Nina Barough CBE, Founder and Chief Executive, set up and now runs Walk the Walk Worldwide.
  • Walk the Walk specialises in fitness and Power Walking challenges.
  • Walk the Walk has so far raised in excess of £126 million.
  • As a grant-making charity, all funds raised by Walk the Walk are granted to where the charity feels they will do the most good.
  • Walk the Walk funds are granted to projects that not only support research, important to all our future health, but also to a variety of projects that are supporting cancer patients now throughout the UK.
  • The MoonWalk is the flagship event of the charity currently held in London, Scotland and Iceland.