Swimmers brave the North Sea at Xmas

BRAVE festive fundraisers made a splash for a good cause when they dived into the North Sea for charity.

BRAVE festive fundraisers made a splash for a good cause when they dived into the North Sea for charity.

At Felixstowe, more than 90 people dived into the sea to raise thousands for St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich between them.

Young and old took part, many in bright and daring fancy dress outfits, while hundreds of well-wishers took time out from their morning to cheer them on from Cobbolds Point.

For 20-year-old Catherine Carey the event was particularly special because she was doing it in memory of her mum, Jane, 50, who died five weeks ago.

Miss Carey, who was wearing a wet suit when she took on the challenge, said: “I told her I would do it and she didn't believe me! She was in the hospice for a little bit but she came home eventually. They were really great.”

Miss Carey said: “It wasn't as cold as I feared but my feet hurt because of the stones.”

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One man who was prepared for the icy chill of the North Sea was 57-year-old Peter Burt from Grange Road, Felixstowe.

The former coastguard started the annual dip six years ago when he went in on his own. The next year eight people took part and it has ballooned from there.

This year the veteran of the event said: “It is what Christmas is all about for me.

“It isn't what you get in your stocking. Everyone has a good time here and does something for other people - they aren't just stuck in front of the television.

“Once you get in you go numb and don't feel it any more so it's lots of fun really!”

Patsy Johnson, events coordinator at Ipswich's St Elizabeth Hospice, added: "Last year we had almost 40 and this year we have 96 which is great. A lot of people really enjoy it because they get to do something crazy on Christmas day.”

More than 30 swimmers gathered at Aldeburgh beach opposite the Moot Hall at 11am to take on the festive challenge, with teenagers to pensioners joining the fun and immersing themselves in the chilly water for one minute.

Organiser Kev Hopayian, who usually takes part but was supporting others this year as he recovers from a chest infection, said: “There was a very jolly, festive atmosphere with onlookers and family and friends of swimmers gathered.

And yesterday brave souls took to the River Deben Waldringfield to raise money for the Clic Sargent Appeal. The “Dip and Nip” was led by channel swimmer Paul Hopfensberger and sponsored by Maybush pub landlord Steve Lomas who offered those taking part a warm drink after their dip into the cold water.

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