Aura Leisure’s Navan centre paid host to the first ever Ducky Deed Derby on Sunday afternoon, May 21st.
The Derby was organised by the family of a former member of Navan’s staff, Aaron Cantwell, who sadly passed away last year.
Aaron was known for his kind ways and his big smile as a swim teacher in Aura Navan and beyond, and following his passing Aaron’s wishes to donate his organs were acted upon, as four of his organs were used to help save the lives of others.
Aaron’s kindness was most evident in one of his journal entries, that his mum, Naomi, found which referenced how Aaron consciously tried to always be caring and look after others.
“I’m going to be myself and be nice to everyone I can. Even if a small thing I do makes someone smile then I did a good job. Because everyone has their battles and, if even for a few seconds they are happy, it makes a difference.”– Aaron’s Journal Entry.
After finding the entry Naomi was inspired to create a little blue duck with a big smile and a bigger heart called, ‘Ducky’, to represent Aaron, and from here the journey to the Ducky Deed Derby began.
On the day itself, there was great excitement as five teams of six participants, came together to compete in the Ducky Deed Derby. This consisted of each team member doing 200 metres of the pool (8-lengths) and seeing which team finished the fastest.
The teams were made up of friends of Aaron, family members of deceased organ donors, organ recipient families, as well as people that love to swim and wanted to help with the cause. Time trials had taken place over the previous two-weeks to whittle it down to the final 30 participants.
After a fierce battle it was the Pink Team that came out on top to claim the win, with each member of the team receiving a 1-year family membership to Aura Leisure.
The winning team consisted of Ciara Williams, Paula Dorian, Fionn O’Scolai, Patrick Sands, Mark Tuohy, and Tracy O’Hare and were presented with their prizes by Aaron’s brother Adam Cantwell.
Ciara and Paula are no strangers to swimming with the former a swimming and water polo instructor, while Paula is a long-term member of staff in Aura Trim and is currently the swim co-ordinator there.
Fionn was a good friend of Aaron’s, who also loves swimming, and Tracy is a neighbour and friend of the family.
While Patrick was part of the winning team, his wife, Ruth, also took part in the event and was a member of the Green Team. Patrick and Ruth are the parents of deceased organ donor, Mark, who passed away aged 21 in 2019.
The final member of the winning team is Mark Tuohy, who is a two-time kidney recipient. Mark had his first kidney transplant in 2002, and his second 17-years later in 2019, and is an example of how acts like Aaron’s can help others.
As well as the prize for the winning team the overall fastest swimmer in the timed trials, which was again, Ciara Williams, and fastest male swimmer, Finn Doherty, another member of the Aura team, each received a two-night B&B voucher to stay in Clayton Hotel Charlemont.
Ducky Deed Derby’s will be annual events to celebrate Aaron’s life and his kindness. Each year they will promote a different cause, all the time encouraging diversity, inclusion, and unity among people. As Aaron’s last act of kindness was Organ Donation, this year’s Ducky Deed Derby, ‘The Gift of Life’, was to promote Organ Donation Awareness.
Aaron’s mother Naomi, who has been the driving force in all things Ducky Deed, has said she hopes to have events in the future that can bring people together as “after all we have far more in common with each other than not”.
In the future there are ideas for races that may include both fully abled and disabled contestants, people of different ethnicities, people from different religious backgrounds, and so on, all with the goal of coming together to create unity.
As the curtain closes on the first Ducky Deed Derby, Naomi would like to remind people that a Ducky Deed is a Conscious Act of Kindness, carried out with intent. It leaves the recipient in a better position than before the act. It’s not random or easy, it requires careful consideration. But through; self-compassion, motivation, empathy, curiosity, courage, and selflessness, we can truly make a difference.
We would like to congratulate Aaron’s family for organising a brilliant and thoughtful event on Sunday and thank everyone that supported the event and participated throughout.
We look forward to seeing what comes next for this great cause.