NEC to host Dragonboat Race

Calling all fun-loving businesses or teams. How good are your sea legs? Do you want to become the Dragonboat champions of the Midlands? Or take the coveted new ‘Rubber Ducky’ award after falling in? How much do you want to avoid finishing last and splash away with the Paddle of Pity? And are you on a Mission to help put Cure Leukaemia out of business?

Now is your chance to do all of that and more as Cure Leukaemia has joined forces with the NEC for the 2020 Dragonboat Race - bigger and better than ever - at a new venue on Pendigo Lake on the NEC complex.

Cure Leukaemia has agreed a three-year deal with the UK’s number one venue to link up for the new event, taking place on Saturday 5th September to kick off the charity’s programme of activities for Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

The ‘Mission Possible’ for participants - if they choose to accept it - is to swap their normal attire and suits for fancy dress, before hitting the water in 30ft traditional Chinese longboats to demonstrate their paddling power, whilst desperately trying not to fall in… and picking up the Rubber Ducky Award! 

This family friendly event, ideal for groups of friends, family or work colleagues, will take place at a time when Cure Leukaemia has become a national charity, expanding its influence to fund the Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) network at 12 blood cancer centres across the UK with a commitment of £3million from 2020-22.


The charity’s Mission Possible campaign, launched last summer  featuring Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce CEO Paul Faulkner, KPMG Regional Chairman Karl Edge and Regional Director of the West Midlands Institute of Directors Calum Nisbet, encourages people to take on fundraising challenges with the aim of helping find a cure for all forms of blood cancer to put Cure Leukaemia out of business.

“We are delighted to have joined up with the NEC and agreed plans for a new Dragonboat Race taking place for the next three years,” said James McLaughlin, CEO of Cure Leukaemia.


“Teams taking part in Dragonboat events have helped raise £300,000 for Cure Leukaemia over the last five years, including companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, Vodafone, Matalan and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.


“It is such a fun event, where friends and colleagues can work together, or even enter two teams and compete against each other. To be staging it at such a major entertainment venue as the NEC is sure to make it a fantastic day for all the family as well as raising vital funds in the fight against blood cancer.”

Ian Taylor, NEC Group Acting Manager Director for Conventions and Exhibitions, added:

“Teaming up with Cure Leukaemia on this fantastic event is going to be great fun, and we couldn’t be happier that they’ve chosen the NEC as host for the next three years.


“So get your oars at the ready and join us; see if you’ve got what it takes to paddle to victory, and help raise thousands of pounds for the charity’s vital work.”

There will be a coveted trophy awarded to the winners, and also the Paddle Of Pity, for the worst performers on the day, as well as the Rubber Ducky award for the most spectacular fall-in!

Entry for the Cure Leukaemia Dragonboat Race 2020 is now open for teams to come forward with a cost of £500 per boat of ten (plus one drummer), and a minimum of £2,000 fundraising per team.

Contact Jackie Kelly via for all the details, and also to make enquiries about sponsorship opportunities, including a number of fun awards which will be made on the day.

< Back to List

What we do

Putting The 'Fun' Into Fundraising

Get Involved And Help Cure Leukaemia

Cure Leukamia Pre footer image
"By backing Cure Leukaemia you will be making a direct impact; helping hundreds of thousands of people live a better life and avoid unnecessary suffering and death."

George Freeman MP
"By backing Cure Leukaemia you will be making a direct impact; helping hundreds of thousands of people live a better life and avoid unnecessary suffering and death."

George Freeman MP