Wacky way to get carried away

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2007, 12:00am

Matilda International Hospital had an especially busy day yesterday with a line of 64 'patients' being rushed to its emergency ward in the space of an hour.

But the patients were carried in sedan chairs, not ambulances. What they demanded was not medical treatment but attention from spectators of the Sedan Chair Race, an annual charity event organised by the Sedan Chair Charities Fund.

The teams were dressed as flying pigs, penguins, grannies, pirates and circus animals - you name it.

Anson Chan Fang On-sang, former administration chief secretary, was the race's official starter.

Lawyers from Robertsons Solicitors, which snatched the Best Decorated Chair Award, donned specially designed outfits which made them look like grannies carrying babies on their backs.

'In the old days, this was how grannies rushed up to the hospital with their babies,' said solicitor Kevin Steel, who came up with the costume idea.

Deanna Manley, a member of one of the HSBC teams that won the first runner-up prize for the Ladies' Course, said they had been training for weeks on The Peak to prepare for the race.

She said her team of six raised HK$30,000 for the charity in one night by selling raffle tickets in Lan Kwai Fong.

The idea for the race stems from the fact sedan chairs were the main means of transport to and from the hospital when it opened in 1907.

The first Sedan Chair Race was held in 1975, with entrants racing around a 3.2km route on Mount Kellett Road, following the original route patients used to take to the hospital after arriving by the Peak Tram. That course is named the Super Eight Challenge, as most participants opt for the alternative, shorter route.

The team representing the Hong Kong Police won the Super Eight Challenge by finishing the course in 13 minutes, 50 seconds yesterday.

Over the past 32 years, a total of HK$45 million has been raised to support more than 100 charitable organisations that do not receive assistance from the Community Chest, the Hong Kong Jockey Club or the government.

The fund said it hoped this year's event would better last year's record of HK$4 million.