Hundreds take on the Felixstowe Christmas Day Dip 2016 for St Elizabeth Hospice
PUBLISHED: 11:45 25 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:49 25 December 2016
It is a Christmas tradition in which the North Sea provides a physical test for only the hardiest of souls.
But while the rest of Suffolk were opening presents or devouring some early mince pies, a total of 380 fundraisers took the 6C (43F) plunge at Felixstowe for the 13th annual Christmas Day Dip, watched by 1,000 spectators.
It was organised by St Elizabeth Hospice and every participant was fundraising for the charity, which costs £9.1 million a year to run.
“It was a great Christmas morning with many people doing the dip in memory of those they used to spend this special time with,” said Catherine Sheppard, events and challenges fundraiser at the hospice.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped make the day possible and to everyone who took part to raise money for the hospice.”
The sunny weather and mild temperatures were relished by the swimmers, although some were buffered from the crisp air with their Santa outfits. Others were dressed as elves and penguins. There was even a Wonder Woman.
Mrs Sheppard added: “It’s always lovely to see so many people come together to support those doing the dip and their fundraising efforts will help us to ensure that those spending their Christmas at the hospice can also join in the festivities.
“Just £52 pays for four patients to enjoy a nutritional Christmas lunch and festive supper which means so much to those who are with us at this time of year.”
People were still able to sign up on the morning after the online registration had closed. A zumba dance warm-up got the blood flowing at 9.45am before the participants charged into the sea at 10am. Some scrambled back to the shore within seconds. Others swam out further.
The age limit for participants was lowered from 13 to 10 this year. That allowed Suffolk 10-year-old Sampson Ellis to swim with his mother and raise money for the hospice, which looked after his grandma and grandad before they passed away.
He said: “St Elizabeth Hospice will always be very special to me. I remember coming in to see my grandad and the nurses making me hot chocolate before I gave him a kiss goodnight and went home.
“They also came to my grandma’s house to look after her in her own home.”
Last year, 352 people took part, raising £26,000 for the hospice.
The hospice thanked everyone who took part or helped, including: all staff and volunteers, the Mayor of Felixstowe, Cllr Jan Garfield and her Consort, Cllr Jon Garfield, Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Services, Eastern Community Assistance Team, Felixstowe Rotary Club, Speedy Hire Ipswich, The Spa Pavilion, Max Raffe, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Suffolk Coastal Services, Felixstowe Town Council, Woodbridge Medical Services, Suffolk Police, Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service, East of England Ambulance Service and Best Badges.