Boat race helps develops staff and student bonds and awareness of cancer

By Press office

Queen Margaret University (QMU) lecturers and students went head-to-head to see who was faster in a boat race along the Union Canal on Saturday 29th April. Thanks to the involvement of a team of cancer survivors, the fun event not only strengthened bonds between QMU staff and students, but it also improved radiography students’ understanding of individuals who had experienced cancer.  

Students from the Master of Radiography: Therapeutic course and staff from QMU’s School of Health Sciences faced off against one another with the aid of the Port Edgar Dragons at the Union Canal in Sighthill over the weekend. 

Six students went head-to-head against a team of seven staff in a timed boat sprint. While the race was incredibly close, and there was only a four second difference between the teams, the students just managed to beat their lecturers to take home the trophy.  

The race was organised alongside the Port Edgar Dragons, a therapeutic team run by and for breast cancer survivors. The Dragons frequently work alongside QMU’s therapeutic radiography team to teach students about the impact radiotherapy has on patients and how best to support them.  

As well as a fun, competitive way to blow off steam at the end of the academic year, it is also a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of therapeutic radiographers to meet and speak to people who have experienced radiotherapy.  

The ability to support patients is crucial to becoming an effective Therapeutic Radiographer. Patients are often very vulnerable during radiotherapy and may be struggling with anything from surgical pain to problems with chemotherapy. Opportunities to spend time with recovering breast cancer patients is a great chance to learn about their experiences and how to become the best radiographer possible.  

Elisabeth Taylor, Lecturer in Therapeutic Radiography at QMU, said: “We’ve been working with the Dragons for the past few years because it is important to give the students the chance to learn about what it’s like on the other side of the equipment.  While it’s been great having the Dragons at the University, we wanted to come out to give the students the chance to see what it’s like on the Dragonboats for themselves.  

"We excel at building community within QMU. We know who our students are and develop working relationships with them but it’s important for the students to see not only the staff as human beings but the patients they will treat as individual people. Getting us all in the boat together and giving everyone the chance to talk, spend time together and build those relationships is crucial to creating empathy. 

“We will definitely be coming out in the boats again! Hopefully next time will be even bigger and better and we are currently trying to decide when the best time would be to host the next race.” 

Lindsay Kaney, Chair of the Port Edgar Dragons, said: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 and a half years ago and unfortunately my experiences with diagnostic and therapeutic radiography at that time weren’t fantastic. 

“How you deal with a patient can make such a difference. Many of these patients are at the end of a very difficult process, they can be struggling with issues from other treatment and are often put in very vulnerable positions with healthcare providers.  

“It has been brilliant to see cancer patients in the boat with students today. You can see people speaking with one another and building relationships. Hopefully the more we do this, the better it gets!” 

Notes to Editor

For further media information contact John Gillespie, Media Relations and Content Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E:, and copy to press office E:

Read more about Therapeutic Radiography at QMU here.

Read more about the Port Edgar Dragons here