Gallery/Video: Hundreds take to the seas in Suffolk and Essex to take part in Christmas day swims

Christmas Day Swim at Felixstowe in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice

Christmas Day Swim at Felixstowe in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice - Credit: Lucy Taylor

The region’s seas were full of festive revellers as hundreds of people along the Suffolk and Essex coast started their Christmas Day with a splash.

It is believed a record number of people, including Felixstowe Mayor Graham Newman, took part in the Felixstowe Christmas Day Dip, raising thousands of pounds for St Elizabeth Hospice.

Many of those taking part did so in memory of a loved-one, or to give something back to the Hospice where a friend or a relative was cared for.

Others took part with friends and family as an exhilarating way to begin the festivities on Christmas morning.

The Christmas Day Dip first took place 11 years ago in supporter Peter Burt’s back garden, with just seven people taking part. Mr Burt and his family still come along every year and are always some of the first in and last out.

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St Elizabeth Hospice’s Events and Challenges Fundraiser, Joanne Rodger, said: “The sun was shining and everyone was freezing cold, but they had a good time and everyone was smiling.

“We are so grateful to everyone who took part this year and raised sponsorship, helping make the 2014 Christmas Day Dip one of the most successful so far.

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“The support we’ve received so far is incredible, and with even more sponsorship money due to come in afterwards, we’re hoping this will be one of our most successful dips ever.

“Every penny raised will help us continue to improve life for people living with a progressive illness in East Suffolk and South Norfolk.”

Jack Nicholl, Digital Marketing and Communications Officer for the hospice, took part in the dip and said: “It was refreshing.

Despite how cold it was it was the easiest thing in the world, you’re in and out.”

In Clacton, one of the swimmers, Fred East, said “hundreds and hundreds” of people were at the beach.

Mr East added: “It was a lovely and glorious sunny day.

“There were about 100 swimmers there and two people swam the length of the beach.”

Champagne corks popped and mulled wine was poured in Southwold when more than 100 people celebrated Christmas with a North Sea swim.

The annual race into the water, which started on the beach near Gun Hill, raised money for causes including the RNLI, Sole Bay Care fund and Southwold’s voluntary help centre.

About 500 people watched the event, organised by Southwold and District Rotary Club.

Among those taking part was 11-year-old Grace Tidiman who rang the school bell to start the race and then helped with the bucket collection, raising cash for End Polio Now, the Rotary International charity of 2014.

And in Lowestoft, more than 200 people braved North Sea temperatures to take part in the town’s Christmas Charity Swim, raising money for local good causes.

Lowestoft’s Christmas Day swim dates back 40 years and was saved by the Sentinel Leisure Trust last year, which runs leisure services in Waveney on behalf of the district council.

Joe Annis, a director of Sentinel, helped establish the event when he was working as a lifeguard.

An estimated 1,500 people lined the prom and beach to watch today’s swim.

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