We owe the privilege of being members of South Africa’s first Breast Cancer Survivor (BCS) Dragon Boat team to one incredibly passionate and determined lady – our founder and coach for 3 years – Pam Newby.
Without her unfailing determination to fulfill promises made to the BCS team from Adelaide, Australia known as Dragon’s Abreast as well as the Canadian team, Abreast in a Boat, our team would never have taken to the water on that memorable evening, 6th of April 2006! History in the making in Cape Town Waterfront with 6 breast cancer survivors, 1 surgeon, a few nurses and the rest paddlers from the Paddlesnappers and Mujaji clubs!
Pam was helming for the SA premier open and mixed teams at the Club Crew World Championships in Rome when she volunteered to helm for Dragons Abreast in their races. Their helm was recovering from surgery and Pam, having felt drawn to this particularly friendly and extrovert team so wanted to help them. When they parted at the end of these Championships, Pam made a promise that she would start a BCS team once she was back home in Cape Town.
Although a passionate dragon boater herself and determined to succeed with getting this team on the water she faced a long difficult road to success! After three attempts in 2002, 2003 and 2004 it was only at her 4th attempt in 2006 together with Barbara Poulter and Pam Thompson (both ladies from the Pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Aventis) that she finally fulfilled that promise made many years before to Dragon’s Abreast and also to the Canadian team, Abreast in a Boat, who participated in a regatta in Cape Town in 2004!
Pam has said that she found being involved with the Belles a “very enriching experience” and team members under Pam’s coaching have had their lives enriched by being part of such an awesome “floating support group”. Pam and the Belles team travelled to Singapore in 2006 to participate in the first ever World Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Championships. The team made Pam proud as after only 4 and a half months of training and seeded last out of 16 teams, they ended up being in all 6 Grand Finals, were placed 4th overall and won silver medals in one of the events. This is all thanks to her hard work, enthusiasm and determination to coach in all weathers twice a week thereby ensuring that a team of breast cancer survivors get to paddle in the beautiful V&A Waterfront in Cape Town!