Paddling in memory of Mum at Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival

Christine Seims and family

Christine Seims was cared for at our Thorpe Hall Hospice. Her daughter Christine and three generations of family members are donning their Abba costumes and fundraising in her memory.

Melissa Seims’ Dragon Boat crew have their eye on a prize at this year’s Festival in Peterborough – they’re after the Fancy Dress trophy!

“We’re being realistic,” says Melissa. “We’re a family crew made up of 20-somethings to 70-somethings and we’re pretty sure, even if we trained really hard, we’d have no chance of winning a prize for speed.

"But we are busy hunting out flared trousers, platform boots and wigs so we can do the whole Abba-esque style fancy dress in memory of Mum," she adds.

Mum is Christine Seims, who was cared for and died at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough in February this year.

"The idea to fundraise gave us an anchor at a difficult time"

She was admitted just two days after she and husband Peter (pictured below) marked their 47th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows at a special ceremony.

“Mum had a complication arising from kidney cancer," Melissa explains, "and was admitted to Thorpe Hall for pain management, which worked – within a week Dad was able to take Mum out shopping.”

Unfortunately, by the end of the next week Christine’s condition had deteriorated dramatically.

“In those final days and hours as we all gathered at the hospice to say our final goodbyes, I noticed a poster advertising the Dragon Boat Festival,” says Melissa. “We sat by Mum’s bed all very emotional and - almost in an effort to lighten the mood at a terrible time - I made a flippant comment about us entering a team.

"The idea gave us an anchor at that time; it was something to hold on to for the future, and a chance to celebrate the memory of Mum and raise funds for the Sue Ryder hospice that had been so kind to us all.”

Christine died a few days later on 11th February.

“The staff were just lovely," Melissa recalls. "One of the nurses was in the room as Mum took her last breath and she couldn’t have treated her with more dignity.”

Three generations of fundraisers

Melissa mentioned her Dragon Boat Festival suggestion to extended family members in the days after her Mum’s death.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm and, before we knew it, we had enough people pitching in to make up a team," she says.

On Saturday 9th June, just two days before what would have been her 66th birthday, Christine’s family - who’ve named themselves Christine’s Crazy Crew - will take to the water at Peterborough Rowing Lake for the Dragon Boat Festival.

“Mum has three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and we’ll all be there on the day to either paddle in the boat or cheer from the bank,” Melissa says. “My Dad is going to be in the boat with Mum’s brother and one of her grandchildren so we’ll have a 50-year age span.

"In memory of Mum we’re going with an Abba-inspired fancy dress in the hope of winning the fancy dress title!" she adds.

Support the Seims family

Christine, who lived in Orton Malborne, Peterborough, had a long career spending time working for the NHS, social services and a charity.

Melissa says: “Mum worked for the NHS, children’s hospital at home as well as Age Concern (now Age UK) and social services. It seems fitting that her path of service to others was returned by Sue Ryder when she needed it the most.”

The family are now busy fundraising and all the money they raise will be donated to Thorpe Hall Hospice.

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Get involved in an event

The family will be battling it out on the day against up to 52 crews at the 20th anniversary Dragon Boat Festival organised by Gable Events. For the fourth year running, Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is the Festival’s charity partner.

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