Nurse rows tribute to all key workers at Illuminations

When Community Psychiatric Nurse Mary Chigodora comes home from work, instead of sitting down to watch TV, she heads out to the River Derwent to row – and at this time of year it is as part of the famous Matlock Bath Illuminations.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 3:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 3:35 pm
Nurse Mary Chigodora rowing the boat which pays tribute to the efforts of key workers.

This year Mary, who works for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, is rowing a special boat that is a tribute to the NHS and its work during the pandemic.

The Matlock Bath Illuminations is a family event with a spectacular parade of illuminated and decorated boats along the River Derwent, all of which are rowed by a keen group of volunteers.

During the eight-week season, which this year runs from 11 September to 31 October, members of Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders' Association decorate themed models with coloured lights.

Mary Chigodora

The models are then mounted on rowing boats and paraded on the River Derwent on Saturdays and Sundays.

Mary got involved with the celebration through her partner Paul Henshall, a keen builder of the decorations for the boats, which are designed by students at Matlock’s Highfields School. Paul has been taking part in the event for 47 years.

This year, Mary is rowing the candle boat, lit by tea lights instead of the normal fairy lights, and dedicated to the NHS and all other key workers.

Last year the Illuminations were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year’s event is being run as a ticket-only event.

Mary said: “I usually row my partner’s decorated boat, but this year I agreed to row the traditional candle boat, as it is dedicated to key workers.

"We don’t have to row a long way but it can be tricky if the weather is bad. I love to row; it’s a way of giving myself some therapy. I row every evening after work.

“It was lovely this year when some of my NHS workmates were standing on the bank applauding me.

"People know me well in the Matlock area so it’s lovely when any NHS colleagues give me a cheer.”

The candle boat rowed by Mary is lit with about 100 tea lights, and recalls a time before battery power brightened the lights at the Illuminations.

Her partner Paul, meanwhile, is rowing the Lego Lockdown Express, another nod to the pandemic year.

For more details on the Illuminations and to book tickets, go to the Derbyshire Dales District Council website.

For every fireworks night at the illuminnations a park & ride service is operating from 5pm until 10.30pm from Cromford Meadows, Cromford (Sat Nav - DE4 3RQ). This drops off near the Illuminations entrance, so is better suited to visitors with mobility issues.

The park & ride & shuttle bus service costs £2 (return) per adult, £1 for children and under five s are free.

The buses, which run about every 20 minutes, are fully accessible and well behaved dogs are welcome. There is no parking charge at Cromford Meadows on top of the park & ride fee.

Please note that all Illuminations nights are now sold for the remainder of the 2021 season. .

For all parking and transport options visit: