Paddle back!

Today a new dragon boat club emerges to join the thousands worldwide, but this one is different.  Purple Warriors is a club solely for serving and retired members of HM Forces who, as a result of their service to this country, are suffering from some form of impairment.

This is a world first.  This is a club intended to smash society’s preconceptions about impairments by creating a team that will compete against crews that have no paddlers with impairments … and win.

Purple Warriors will build on the qualities of discipline, professionalism, endeavour and personal sacrifice that have defined our fighting men and women for centuries.

Dragon boating is a global sport, with its own national, continental and world championships.  A dragon boat has 20 paddlers, a drummer and a helm and typically races over 200m, 500m, 1,000m and 2km.  It’s fast, furious, demanding and highly competitive.  Dragon boating in the UK is governed by the British Dragonboat Association and worldwide by the International Dragon Boat Federation.

Purple Warriors has been founded by some of GB’s top dragon boaters, supported by a number of others, all inspired to help by the bravery and spirit of impaired servicemen and women.  They are inspired to want to help these people take on a new challenge in their lives, and to emerge victorious.  Indeed, one of the founders – Mark Harding – was severely wounded in Afghanistan in 2010 and was told he would probably never walk again.  In 2013 he paddled for GB, in an able-bodied crew in China in the inaugural World Cup, and again in 2014 in the European Dragon Boat Championships!

Initially, Purple Warriors will be based in Wraysbury, west London with subsidiary venues in Exeter and Stockton on Tees.  The initiative has the full support of the Battle Back Programme.

Purple Warriors will compete this year against British able-bodied dragon boat crews.  The club is also working with the International Dragon Boat Federation to have an impaired crew category in the 2018 European Championships and 2019 World Championships, and with the Invictus Games for inclusion of the sport in the 2017 Toronto Games.

Nigel Bedford, one of the Club’s founders, is a retired Army officer and GB paddler.  He said “Purple Warriors is about inspiration and achievement.  When the team is in a dragon boat, no one will be able to anyone’s impairments – what they will see is a crew committed to making a difference for each other and determined to take on the best, and win.”

Key dates:

Introductory sessions will be held as follows:

Sat 14 May – Wraysbury

Sat 21 May – Stockton-on-Tees

Sun 22 May – Exeter

Details on the website:

For further information contact:

Nigel Bedford – principal founder        0771 264 5800

Jennie Henderson – media relations    0781 803 7475

Further information can be found on our website of and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Facebook –

Twitter -

Paddle back!

You – have some form of impairment as a result of your military service

You – are looking for a sport where you personally can make a difference

You – want to compete against able-bodied people, and beat them

You – are what Purple Warriors is looking for

We are a bunch of GB dragon boaters and others who are totally…

inspired by you

Inspired by the challenges you have overcome, some of the best dragon boaters in the country have joined together with others to help you achieve even more.  Purple Warriors is a dragon boat club for serving and retired servicemen and women who have some form of impairment. 

Purple Warriors is for the vision-impaired, hearing-impaired, mobility-impaired, and psychologically wounded to join together to form a dragon boat team that able-bodied teams will respect …. and fear.   

We will train you and give you the tools to win – then its up to you

Purple Warriors is a world first, and you can make it first in the world. 

The Purple Warriors journey begins for you today.  Click on for more information



  • Dakota Digital