QVC Knowsley rows to victory


While the weather may have been less than perfect for Father’s Day this weekend past, that didn’t derail the efforts of QVC staff members who were competing in the Chester Dragon Boat Festival on the River Dee in Chester.

Team Quavers Versus Crisps (or ‘QVC’ for short) were among 23 teams from assorted companies across northwest England taking part, all competing to win bragging rights while raising money for their nominated charities – in our case, The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity, who provide cancer care to around 27,000 patients each year at their centre in Wirral and at satellite units around the region. Each team would compete in three head-to-head qualifying heats, with the four teams with the fastest timed runs going into a four-way sprint for victory in the final.

We’ve managed to capture some video of the second heat which shows the technique the team have perfected during months of training with Liverpool’s professional Amathus Dragon Boat Racing Club.

[Having trouble viewing this video? See YouTube’s Help page]

Mike Devine, Operations Manager at our Knowsley site, takes over the story with one qualifying run left to go:

With the team having won our first two races, a degree of complacency may have set in by the time the team crossed the start line for Race 3. An inevitable defeat came our way, and you could tell the team was hurting as silence descended upon the boat as we made our way back to land. However all was not lost, as we had at least secured a place in the final thanks to our finishing time in Race 2, the third-fastest qualifying run of the day.

The final was emotional for me personally; I’ve missed out on the Dragon Boat Festival for the last two years.

In 2013, this was through what I would describe as choice (and what others have described as a lack of ability). 2014 was a different picture altogether, though, when the best I could muster as the team took to the waters was to cheer them on from the sidelines. Serious illness had struck in the May, when I suffered a heart attack followed by a triple heart bypass operation just days later.

To avoid becoming a statistic I approached my rehabilitation determined to make the changes that would impact my long-term future positively: I quit smoking; I changed my diet (which I might add is different to going on a diet); I started to take exercise daily; and along the way lost at least 15 kilos in weight as I gradually got fitter – so much so that I completed the Liverpool Spring 10k on May 3rd this year in a time of 57 minutes and 3 seconds, 12 months to the day since my heart attack.

In many ways my recovery was made easier for me as I had the support of my long-suffering family, as I have to freely admit that at times I was not a ‘brave soldier’ but with their love, support and encouragement I got through it.

In addition to this and something that I feel quite passionate about is the support I received during my road to recovery from my other family – the QVC family! I simply could not have wished for better.

What blew me away were the messages of support I received from some of our customers throughout my absence. They know who they are and I will be forever grateful to them for their kind words and thoughts. Being a lifelong supporter of Liverpool FC, I finally knew what the meaning of having ‘never walked alone’ was really about.

Back to the final. At this point, like every great captain, Kev Beattie (our Resource Planning Manager) gathered his charges together one last time prior for the final and something immediately became apparent.

There is clearly a strong sense of teamwork and loyalty within this group. When we analysed Race 3 there was no finger pointing, no feelings of recriminations, just a sense of what we do well and what we needed to focus on to be successful in the final.

The rest, as they say, is history. The team went on to win the final with the fastest recorded time of the day!

qvc champions

On the way to our victory the team had met triumph and defeat (not quite disaster) but we certainly treated both in just the same way – with dignity and respect for our fellow competitors! In the space of an hour or so we had tasted the two extreme feelings that take place in competitive sport and trust me we will always aim to compete.

It really is hard to put into words the feeling of joy to be had when you cross the finishing line as ‘Winners’ as we did, though! I suspect none of us will forget what we did on Father’s Day 2015 and for my part it was a real privilege taking part, and one of the many reasons why I am proud to say I work for QVC.

Congratulations to Mike and the team! The team will be going for gold again at the Corporate Games in Stoke-on-Trent this weekend. Good luck!

Find out more about what QVC UK does for charity here.


  1. Jilly June 23, 2015 at 7:08 pm -  Reply

    Well done all the team – and also for telling us your story Mike. My daughter at 40 needed treatment from Clatterbridge and they were super – so thank you from me to you all and again very well done Jilly

  2. Dick Chalmers June 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm -  Reply

    Well done to all who took part both on and off the water. Fantastic recovery Mike, its a long hard road but you’re well on the way. Just don’t get too enthusiastic and overdo it.
    Dick & Cath

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