WATCHED by his proud grandma, one teenager got his Christmas celebrations off to a chilly start, wading into the sea at Felixstowe to help raise more than £40,000 for St Elizabeth Hospice.

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Thirteen-year-old Thomas Boyt, of Shotley Close, was one of more than 500 hardy swimmers who plunged into the icy North Sea on Christmas Day – making this year’s dip the most successful ever.

The Felixstowe Academy student was inspired to take part by his grandmother, Pat Cornforth, 66, who overcame non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009.

Mum Louise, who watched from the warmth of the beach, said her son had “really enjoyed” the swim.

“It was a bit chilly but he really enjoyed taking part. His nan was there to watch too, we were all so proud of him.”

Meanwhile, for one couple, a three-letter word proved the perfect Christmas present.

Dropping on to one knee, Alex Cable proposed to his girlfriend Sadie Wooltorton, in front of the throng of brave swimmers moments before they all rushed into the water.

Mr Cable, 27, a self-employed builder and bricklayer, said: “Sadie had said to do something that she’d like and I thought this seemed like a good idea.

“I was quite nervous beforehand. I couldn’t be happier that she said ‘yes’.”

Miss Wooltorton, 24, who works in admin for social services, added: “It was a complete surprise. The best Christmas present I could have hoped for.”

Speaking at the event, organiser Emily Sullivan said: “We are hugely thankful to everybody who took part today and helped make this year’s Christmas Day dip the most successful ever.

“There’s been a fantastic atmosphere all morning, with everybody really getting into the spirit of the event and enjoying themselves.

“Raising over £40,000 will be a huge help in allowing us to continue growing local hospice care, and we’d like to thank everybody who has sponsored our brave dippers for their generous support.”

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