Youngsters prepare for St Elizabeth Hospice Christmas Day Dip in Felixstowe in memory of loved ones
PUBLISHED: 06:32 07 December 2016 | UPDATED: 06:32 07 December 2016
Youngsters and teenagers in Suffolk are preparing themselves for the bracing conditions of this year's Christmas Day Dip for the first time.
The annual St Elizabeth Hospice fundraiser takes place in Felixstowe on Christmas morning, with hardy hospice supporters set to brave the wintry waves for the charity.
Although previously only open for those aged over 13, this year’s 13th annual dip has been opened up to those aged 10 to 13 before or on Christmas Eve who will be able to take part alongside adults and teenagers for the first time.
Catherine Sheppard, hospice events and challenges fundraiser, said: “Every year around 400 people take part and another 1,000 spectators come and watch their loved ones dip. The atmosphere is fantastic with so many people coming together for the same reason. Many people do the dip in memory of a loved one that was helped by the hospice but there are several who come along just for fun.
“It’s an easy event for the whole family to enjoy so this year, we lowered the age so that those as young as ten can complete the challenge too. It’s a great way for everyone to start the festivities and there are still places left for those who would like to join us on the day.”
Many who take part have experienced the care the hospice gives to loved ones first hand, and for the youngsters who are already signed up it is no different.
Sampson Ellis, 10, from Felixstowe, has watched his family take part in the Christmas Day Dip over the last few years, but until now has never been able to take part.
But with Sampson’s granddad John Fish having been cared by the hospice until six years ago when he died, the youngster was keen to do what he could for the cause alongside mum Emma Ellis.
“I was four years old when my granddad died at the St Elizabeth Hospice,” the Causton School pupil said. “I remember the nurses and the doctors looking after him very well. I was always made to feel welcome and on one occasion mummy took me there at 8.30pm at night because I would not sleep without a granddad kiss. When we arrived there all the lights were dim and they made me hot chocolate before we turned around and went home.”
Sampson spent time at the hospice while his granddad was being cared for, and was able to kick a ball around the hospice garden, play board games and feed the fish in his grandad’s company.
And before his grandmother Marlene Fish died earlier this year, the hospice was again working alongside Sampson and his family to make sure the support was in place.
“Since my grandad died, the hospice has always been a special place for me,” Sampson added. “I always think of the lovely people who looked after my family and all the others who are very poorly.
Not only do I hope to raise some money but this will also help my family over a difficult period. I am nervous about how cold it will be but I am going to be brave, just like my grandparents were.”
Mother-of-two Christina Wise, from Ipswich, said she is “delighted” her 10-year-old son Oliver can now take part in the dip. Her husband Andrew died in 2014 after spending nine weeks at the hospice.
“As a family we do a lot of fundraising for the hospice and it is great that Oliver is now able to get involved. My daughter Grace took part in the Bubble Rush this summer which was great, and I’m delighted Oliver is now able to give back to the hospice in this way as they have given the kids so much support.
“In the days after my husband passed away they helped the children with therapy and counselling and now both of them don’t have any negative memories of the hospice.
“The dip itself is a great event as it gets people out of the house on Christmas Day, it is always a wonderful atmosphere.
“Oliver is so excited to take part.”
To find out more and to sign up to this year’s dip, call 01473 723600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.