Flavour of Rio 2016 at Whitehead Festival raft race

Megan, Orlaith and Alita at Whitehead Festival raft race. INLT 32-206-AM
Megan, Orlaith and Alita at Whitehead Festival raft race. INLT 32-206-AM

Raft racers got a hint of the Rio 2016 rowing conditions when they took part in the Whitehead Summer Festival spectacular on Saturday.

Choppy waters added to the challenge for participants in this enduringly popular event.

The 'Wee Dippers' were representing Whitehead Baptist Church. INLT 32-209-AM

The 'Wee Dippers' were representing Whitehead Baptist Church. INLT 32-209-AM

Hosted by County Antrim Yacht Club in support of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the programme also included long distance swim and kayak race.

Jeremy Jones, chairman of Whitehead Community Association which organises the festival, said: “A very successful day to end our festival. Although a fine day, the wind made the water a little choppy, so it was good to have the professionals and their safety boats at hand.”

A tea dance in Whitehead Community Centre, the Molly Coppock Quiz and a range of sporting events including charity soccer golf, junior five-a-side and tennis were among the highlights of the last full week of the festival.

Whitehead Tennis Club hosted the Rose Bowl competition on Thursday night. There was, according to the club, a reasonable turnout of players to contest the trophy, provided by the late Gordon Canning.

The weather was excellent with blue skies and sunshine and competition was keen. Each pair played four matches which were handicapped and following a very entertaining evening’s play the winners by the narrowest of margins were Ian McBride partnered by Lesley Hogg and runners up were Paul Abraham and Les McKeating.

At the conclusion of play, the winners were presented with the trophy and medals kindly provided by Whitehead Community Association and the runners up with medals.

Paul Abraham provided some very welcome refreshments for all to enjoy after the tournament.

This year the town adopted the colour red in support of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust which delivers emotional and practical support to children and young people with heart disease in Northern Ireland, and their families.

Sarah Quinlan, chief executive of the charity, paid tribute to the community for its kind support.

She said: “Children’s Heartbeat Trust were delighted to be the nominated charity for the Whitehead Community Festival 2016 and are very thankful to the people of Whitehead for raising essential funds and awareness of Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) in babies and children.

“Over 200 babies are born each year in Northern Ireland with CHD and this support will help us to make a very real difference to the lives of these children and their families.”

Once again the organisers sought to make the programme as diverse as possible to cater for all tastes including a Mods & Rockers Day, walking tour, art, biodiversity workshop, Food & Folk Fest, sporting events, dance, music etc.

Still to come on Monday (August 15) is the Action Cancer Fishing Competition on the shorefront. As the festival programme states: “It’s the big one! Time to show off your biggest catch.” Registration is from 6.30pm - cast off at 7.00pm. Prizes by Beatties, Ballycarry.