Abi braves the cold for Felixstowe Christmas swim in memory of dad

Hannah Lemmon and Abi Dunnett

Hannah Lemmon and Abi Dunnett before they braved the Christmas Day cold on Felixstowe beach. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Felixstowe teenager Abi Dunnett has raised £1,900 for the St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich with a short Christmas Day dip in the North Sea in memory of her father, Chris.

Chris Dunnett

Abi's father Chris died in February. - Credit: Kerry Dunnett

Mr Dunnett was a regular participant in the annual Christmas morning dip at Felixstowe - but Abi could not join him in the water, because participants have to be at least 13 years old.

Last year she had hoped to join her father in the swim, but he was too ill to take part.

Mr Dunnett had started to feel unwell during a holiday in Egypt in the autumn of 2019. Eventually, cancer was diagnosed and he died in February this year, at the age of 61.

During his last few weeks, Mr Dunnett and his family were supported by the hospice's homecare team, which allowed him to stay at home until the end.

His funeral was held just before the country went into lockdown, which enabled a large number of mourners to attend for someone who had been very active on the local sporting scene and was popular among his workmates at the port.

Hannah Lemmon and Abi Dunnett

Hannah Lemmon and Abi Dunnett in the sea at Felixstowe. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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Abi had originally planned to raise £150 - the cost of a day's care by the hospice at home team - but had soon brought in £350.

By the time she and her cousin, Hannah Lemmon, got in the water, the total had gone up to £1,810.

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She said: "I am very pleased so many people are supporting me.

"People have been very good. It was cold in the water but we went in hand-in-hand and came out hand-in-hand."

Half an hour after the swim, she had got warm again in her Felixstowe home.

"I had always wanted to do this with my father but he was too ill to do it last year - but I was determined to go ahead this Christmas," she said.

She had support from her friends at Saxmundham Free School and from the local drama club, of which she is a member.

She said: "I think some were quite surprised at me doing this, but I really wanted to do this for the hospice - they were really good supporting us."

Abi wore her father's penguin suit for the dip, while Hannah went in as Father Christmas.

Hannah Lemmon, Kerry Dunnett and Abi Dunnett

Hannah Lemmon, Kerry Dunnett and Abi Dunnett on Felixstowe beach before the dip. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Her mother, Kerry, had worked with the coastguards to ensure Abi's swim could go ahead - even after the official Felixstowe charity swim had to be cancelled this year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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