RAISING funds for Bury Hospice proved plain sailing for staff from the town's Pennine Telecom when they took to the waters of Salford Quays for a charity challenge.

The “Pennine Pirates” were among 23 teams who competed in the Salford Dragon Boat Festival, an annual event which raises funds for various regional and national charities.

While the first-time dragon racers failed to reach the contest’s grand final, they easily sailed past their £1,000 fundraising target. With donations still coming in, the Pirates have already hauled aboard a £1,200 bounty.

Pirates’ captain, Pennine Telecom’s enterprise account manager, Nick Simister said: "We are immensely grateful to all those who supported us by generously sponsoring our motley crew. We may not have emerged as victors but the festival was great fun and gave us the opportunity to raise much needed funds for Bury Hospice.

"We raised an amazing £1,200 from our efforts but that’s not it. Pennine Telecom has kindly agreed to match our sponsorship like-for-like which means the hospice will receive £2,400.”

In total, more than £15,000 has so far been raised for various charities by teams who took part in the festival, with beneficiaries including the event’s charity of the year, the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. The organisers expect the final tally to be in excess of £20,000.

Donations to the Pennine Pirates can still be made via www.justgiving.com/pennine-pirates.