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Canoe Rally at Lough Erne to highlight global warning threat

25th August 2009
Canoe Rally at Lough Erne to highlight global warning threat

Schools, businesses and organisations are invited to paddle against global warming at the second annual brites Lough Erne Canoe Rally on the inland waterway, 26th and 27th September 2009. The event is upported and organised by brites and Share Holiday Village who have teamed up to bring a fun and competitive event with an educational message for schools, businesses and organisations to Lough Erne.

The fun-based canoe and kayak event is set to have more of an environmental message this year to highlight the need for education in the prevention of global warming. Of course, canoeing is an ideal platform from which to promote this particular environmental message, being a wonderful form of recreation to be enjoyed on Lough Erne.

Both Share and brites are leaders in the field of renewable energy. Over the past ten years, Share has installed the largest reed-bed water purification plant in Northern Ireland and has built up an extensive portfolio of renewable technologies, which include three wind turbines, four solar water heating systems, and four wood pellet burners. The fuel for these wood pellet burners is supplied by Balcas, the manufacturers of brites wood pellets. Share can now boast of using 99% renewable electricity on site, and 90% renewable heat, resulting in a total overall offset of CO2 of almost 300 tonnes.

Now in its second year since revival, The Erne Canoe Rally was a very successful event run over a number of years in the 1980s and 90s by Share Holiday Village to try and promote Lough Erne as a paddling destination for visiting outdoor enthusiasts. Unfortunately at the time there was little infrastructure in place to accommodate the needs of the paddlers and the event fell by the wayside. Now with great infrastructure in place, including a way marked Lough Erne Canoe Trail, designated camp sites, visitor information, leaflets and maps, a website and a large amount of publicity, the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) are keen that the event uses and helps to promote this.

As Chris Scott, CAAN Marketing Officer, says: “We have seen a great uptake in paddlesports with the various canoe trails achieving lots of publicity on both a national and international scale. Indeed they have won several awards and generated a lot of media interest. We are delighted to see that Share are promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation by incorporating the principles of 'Leave No Trace' for both participants and spectators, so there is a fun educational element for all the family. I am looking forward to the event myself and will have to work on my fancy dress costume – this is where most of the points are won”!

The event has been made possible by title sponsorship from brites, the wood pellet fuel used in the four biomass boilers that provide heat to run Ireland’s largest residential activity centre. Paula Keelagher, brites Technical Development Manager, at Fermanagh-based Balcas says: “The second year of the Canoe Rally seems set to be an even bigger and better event than last year with many local companies, schools and organisations taking part. We are entering a team from brites and challenge any other local businesses to beat us in this worthwhile event. We look forward to welcoming people along to the Canoe Rally and hope that all the participants have a super time”.

Working in Partnership with the Canoe Association for Northern Ireland, the event will be included in their national event plans and run to a very high standard attracting 200 or more paddlers from all over Northern and Southern Ireland as Ashley Hunter, Coaching and Development Manager, comments; “I was delighted to hear that last year’s canoe rally was a great success attracting paddlers from all over Ireland. It is great to see an event that caters for everyone, from the complete beginner right up to the budding enthusiast and I believe that there have already been a number of entries in the Special Olympics section. I can see this event growing and growing with many businesses and schools entering to support both green ethical organisations and enjoy the fun.”

The Erne Canoe Rally is a not for profit – fun competitive canoeing/kayaking event open to all abilities and age groups. A number of classes and special disciplines are available for teams of three. The idea of the event is that the teams must choose and compete in the same boat across all disciplines, which include a long-distance paddle, slalom, sprint and obstacle race with a competitive fancy dress element in the theme of ‘Comic Book Characters’, which will be scored at the Saturday evening disco!

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Pictured above, from left: Rory Martin, Share Marketing Officer; Superman (Jacob Hughes, Share Instructor); Paula Keelagher, brites Technical Development Manager; and Wonderwoman (Nicole Hayes, Share Instructor)

The event is set to make quite a splash amongst canoeing enthusiasts as Rory Martin, Share’s Marketing Officer, describes, “It is great to see the canoeing clubs, classes and organisations come on board to help promote the event. The competitive fancy dress element and the strict event rules with regard to using the same boat for all disciplines will make the event unique and lots and lots of fun for all involved. We are delighted to welcome back Boots and Paddles for the Special Olympics section of the event and hope that we can develop a similar group on Lough Erne”.

Share is offering participants camping facilities, an evening meal, rescue cover, changing facilities, event entry, prizes and a fun social evening for the nominal fee of £35 per adult and £20 for Under 18s, students and the unemployed. Limited boat hire and accommodation are available at a small extra cost. Share decided to keep costs to a minimum to ensure students; children and persons on a low income can attend. There will be a number of activities available for spectators not partaking in the event including Leave No Trace environmental awareness sessions, renewable energy demonstrations and introductory bushcraft. Non participants can also have a go at canoeing!

For more information on the brites Lough Erne Canoe Rally and other outdoor activity packages please contact Rory, Share Marketing Officer on 028 6772 2122, email: [email protected] or click here.

Published in Inland Waterways
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