Joy as Southwold swim saved

A FESTIVE Southwold tradition which was threatened with being scrapped because of health and safety rules has been saved.

A FESTIVE Southwold tradition which was threatened with being scrapped because of health and safety rules has been saved.

It was feared that the town's Christmas swim, which has seen fundraisers brave the icy North Sea on Christmas morning for the last four years, would not go ahead this year because the organisers were finding it difficult to manage the increasingly popular event.

But now Marie Curie Cancer Care - which organises other charity events including swims, runs and music concerts across the country - has stepped in to help arrange and marshal this December's swim.

Last year, 130 people took part in the swim and were watched by a further 750, raising more than £8,000. Since 2003, more than £17,000 has been raised for local good causes.

The event has grown in popularity since the first swim, which was dreamed up just a week before Christmas 2003 by a group of local businessmen who were meeting at the Crown Hotel in the town and saw 29 locals dare to take a festive dip.

But as it started attracting more and more people to the town, from as far afield as Norwich and Ipswich, the organisers - Southwold mayor Teresa Baggott, and husband Derek and locals Dudley and Marion Clarke - found it increasingly difficult to find the time to devote to the swim, and earlier this summer they announced that they would be stepping down.

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Mr Clarke said that the four organisers met with representatives from Marie Curie last week and finalised details for the takeover.

He said: “We're delighted to have found someone to take over the Christmas swim. It simply got too much for the four of us and marshalling it became a problem.

“We were also told that the public liability insurance would have to double from £5m to £10m because of the number of people wanting to take part, which we couldn't possibly cover. I'm sure Marie Curie will do a great job and I hope it is a success and raises lots of money for them.”

A spokesman for Marie Curie Cancer Care said: “We are very excited to be benefiting from this established event and we would hope that it will continue to be successful.”

Details of how to enter this year's swim, which will be marshalled with help from the Rotary Club, will be made available soon.

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