Crew Testimonials


I started paddling for Middlesbrough Council's "Middlesbrough Mandarins" team for a charity event against other local authorities in Durham in 2009. We won the races by a considerable margin and continued to do so for a further 2 years. In the 3rd year we trained with Powerhouse and joined the club as we had so much fun.




Paddling and training with the team has changed my from a skinny bloke to one that can paddle on par with the best in the Country. It has been a long journey, but without the motivation to be better at what I love and the fun had in the team I would not have travelled so far.




At the moment I am training for my third year in the GB squad, hopefully to make the cut into the team for the World Chapmionships in Nagara, Canada. My journey has taken me all over the UK, Europe and even to China for the 1st Dragon Boat World Cup. The friendships and memories built while dragon boat racing will stay with me for a very long time.




Colin Smith (38), Powerhouse and GB Premier Squad right stroke.
I first paddled in 1997 at a charity event organised by Graham in aid of cancer research.  Graham paddled for a very successful local team – the Hartlepool Powermen. I caught the bug straight away but didn’t know what do about it.  Fate then took a part and I attended a friends 30th birthday party who was also a member of Hartlepool Powermen and met Graham again.  We formed Powerhouse in 1998.  I paddled in the engine room and called the races from there paddling on the right.  After using some powermen training kit I actually discovered I was stronger on the left so made the change.  I became the left stroke and called the race from there!  I have some brilliant memories from that seat – my daughter falling off the drum, being battered by hail, looking across the race course to the right and seeing our competition going backwards.

I trained nonstop to trial for GB selection in 2001, we had to break the ice on the river in the winter, train in the gym over 6 times a week with weights and aerobic equipment paddled miles and miles in an 01 daily perfecting the technique gaining stamina and speed – it was worth it as after my time trial at Rickmansworth Lake I qualified for selection to paddle in the world championships in Philadelphia.  An experience I will never ever forget and cherish dearly.

I qualified as a helm in 2002 after picking up an injury after the world championships that put an end to my paddling.  I also joined Graham coaching the Great Britain under 18’s.  We did this until 2004 when they won Gold at Stockton on Tees.  I firmly believe we changed a lot of young people’s lives during this time and it had a profound effect on me.  In 2004 we also coached the GB ladies and GB mixed teams and I also drummed the ladies and mixed teams.  It was a very busy year as Graham and I also got married in August 2004.

I am still heavily involved in coaching when I can as I run my own business and time away from it is limited.  I helm Powerhouse when racing and have been known to boat hop at events helping other crews that need a helm.

Dragonboat racing changed my life and brought something very unique to it.  It has a lot to offer and people can take it as far as Great Britain participation or recreational paddling at national events.  If you haven’t tried it I firmly believe you are missing out.

Allyson Butterfield (43) - current position Helm, previous positions engine room, left stroke, drummer.

Many Years ago in a land far far away that is named North Yorkshire I was asked if I would be interested in joining a charity dragon boat team for the Great York Dragon Boat Challenge. The training for this event took place on the River Tees, home of Powerhouse. I was hooked and 9 years ago I joined the team, my wife is a very vocal supporter of the team and our daughter who has also supported the team since she was 7 and has been competing with the team in recent years. She started out as a drummer, which she really enjoyed and now she is a paddler, although these days GCSE studies mean that she doesn’t get in the boat as much as she would like to. This is a great sport, very family friendly and appeals to many different types of people, we have the opportunity to travel to different parts of the country to compete and have made many acquaintances from other teams and some friends for life amongst the Powerhouse Crew.   Go on give it ago – I did and it’s one of my better choices.




Alan – Paddler (almost 52), Alicia former Drummer now Paddler (almost 16) & Jacqui (48) – Supporter
I joined Powerhouse after enjoying a work charity dragon boat event.  Everyone has been welcoming and encouraging.  I have found a sport I like and have found it easier to keep coming because of the positive team outlook.  It is amazing to take part in a race with water splashing, the drums booming and the helm pushing you to paddle harder!

Francine Marshall (42) - 'dodgy in board arm'
A few years ago I entered a charity dragon boat race through work which was great fun plus we won!  The following year to ensure we retained our title our organiser set us up with a training session with local dragon boating team Powerhouse...the rest is history, I had gotten the dragon boat bug.  As it is a very social sport I took my 9 year old son along one week to have go.  He is now the drummer for our team and loves the fact that he gets to sit at the front of the boat banging the drum and shouting, encouraging us to win the race!!!  It's definatley sport with attitude....give it a go!

Joanne Tickle, (??) - Left Stroke
If you’d told me when I was younger that I would love exercise and team sport in my 40s, I would have thought you were crazy.  I was never a team player (I can’t catch, kick or throw a ball to save my life!) and although I’ve tried to keep myself fit and healthy over the years, always jumping on the latest exercise craze bandwagon – pilates; aqua fit; zumba and the like, nothing held my interest for long and I’d soon fall by the wayside. It wasn’t until I was introduced to Dragon Boating over 3 years ago by a friend of a friend, that I realised I had finally found both and exercise regime and a team sport that I could do, stick to and love! I won’t lie and say it’s easy – it can be really hard work, but what a buzz!  We train 3 times a week but it’s not just boat sessions – we do weight-training and circuits too, and I can honestly say that I am fitter now than I was in my 20s.  Only a few months after I joined Powerhouse, we competed against crews from all over the country at the annual end of season National Competition in Nottingham.  It’s such a thrill to race against other teams (some beginners as we were then, and some more experienced), especially when you come away with medals for your effort! There’s also the social aspect to the team sport – Powerhouse comprises an eclectic bunch of great people of all shapes, sizes and ages, and we all love this strong and intense sport.  So if you feel like taking on a challenge and want to try something different, I would definitely recommend dragon boating!

Rebecca (43) - Voted Splashiest Paddler 2011
When we realised we were redundant as parents (our two children no longer wanted to do things with us!) we knew we had to do something to get us out of the house and keep us active.  In 2004 we went to watch the dragon boat European Championships on the River Tees and we were enthralled and decided to give it a go; joined Powerhouse, and have never looked back.  Whilst we no longer actively paddle we are still involved behind the scenes.  We have met some fantastic people and made lifelong friends.  The team camaraderie is next to none.  Why don’t you come along and find out for yourself.

Tim Renshaw (Club Chair, 53½) & Christine Renshaw (Publicity Officer, 53¼)
I was asked by another school secretary to have a Dragonboat trial with her, at my age! Having never really participated in any sport since school I was amazed that I could do it and enjoyed it thoroughly!  Although my friend was unable to continue I am still enjoying this fantastic water sport nearly 10 years later.  I love the fact that I am the fittest I have ever been in my life and enjoy the camaraderie of the other paddlers. My aim is to live a lot longer and annoy my children! Come and have a trial with us, its GREAT!

Julie Hollins (55)
When I hit 40 I realised the last 15 years sat in front of a desk wasn’t going to give me a healthy lifestyle to enjoy with my family in the coming years ahead so I started to look for something to keep me active. After the standard old gym classes failed to hold my interest, I was introduced to Dragonboating and was soon hooked. It’s the combination of enjoyable training, great people and the exhilaration of racing which make's it so appealing for me, I’m now in the best shape of my life and would recommend anyone to just give it a go!

Bryan Tucker (41) - Engine Room