Funds raised by chilly dip at Felixstowe

PUBLISHED: 15:12 27 December 2001 | UPDATED: 15:22 03 March 2010

IT was weather for hats, scarves and gloves but 15 hardy fundraisers stripped down to swimming costumes and trunks for a bracing Boxing Day dip in the sea.

IT was weather for hats, scarves and gloves but 15 hardy fundraisers stripped down to swimming costumes and trunks for a bracing Boxing Day dip in the sea.

Watching them run into the surf was enough to make the 200 hundred or so spectators shiver but as the swimmers returned to the shore, teeth chattering, slightly blue and with goose pimples it was clear only they knew how cold it had been.

The annual post Christmas Day swim was this year being held in aid of the Terri Calvesbert Appeal and Terri was on hand with her dad Paul to watch the brave few take the plunge in the North Sea at Felixstowe.

Among those enduring the cold water were Yorkshire couple, Liz and Shaun Gregory, who had decided to take part in the swim over Christmas lunch.

Liz, 35, said: "We're in Felixstowe on a family Christmas holiday and we had lunch in the Fludyer's Arms on Christmas Day.

"I saw the poster and thought 'It's Christmas' and I'd probably had too many to drink.

"I spent most of Christmas Day texting people asking for sponsorship and have raised about £250."

She had not been looking forward to the swim, however, and added: "We're staying in a house on the sea front and I thought I would sleep well last night but all I could hear were the waves reminding me."

Her husband Sean, 43, decided to join her at the very last minute on Boxing Day.

"I think he's doing it to protect me," Liz said.

After the brief dip the plucky swimmers were treated to a tot of brandy or rum and wrapped in towels to keep warm.

The Coastal Patrol Rescue team was on hand in case the cold got too much for anyone but it was not needed.

Jackie Ellis, from Kesgrave, had volunteered to do the swim because she knew it was for a good cause and with tinsel dangling from her earrings she did it in festive style.

As for describing how cold the sea was, she simply said: "Flippin' freezing."

The swim raised more than £1,000 for the appeal, which has been launched and is being organised by The Evening Star, but with buckets being passed among spectators the final total is expected to be quite a bit more.

The tradition for the North Sea dip started on Easter Monday in 1983 as an exercise for Royal Air Force and RAF Association members.

It soon became an annual Boxing Day event raising money for charity.

One of the event's organisers, Tony Fitzpatrick, said: "If Terri can endure the temperatures she endured, we can endure a bit of cold."

The appeal now stands at £95,000 and anyone wishing to contribute to it can send donations to Geraldine Thompson, editor's secretary, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, making any cheques payable to the Terri Calvesbert Appeal.

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