Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Hardy swimmers brave chilly sea for New Year's Day dip

Running into the freezing sea waters may not be everyone’s idea of a perfect start to 2009.

St Bees swim latest
Some of the St Bees swimmers

But for more than 50 hardy fundraisers it proved the perfect tonic to any New Year’s Day hangover they may have had.

They went swimming at St Bees yesterday to raise money for cancer charities.

Anne Armstrong, of Grasmere Avenue, Kells, Whitehaven, organised the dip.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, has since received chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment and wanted to raise money for those who helped her.

The group raised about £2,000 yesterday which will go to West Cumberland Hospital’s Henderson Suite and Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity.

Mrs Armstrong’s colleagues at the Co-op in Seacliffe took part along with her sister Sue Coan and her colleagues at Mite Postal Services at Sellafield.

She said after her swim: “It was absolutely freezing but it was brilliant. We could feel the cold even before we went into the water. But it was a big buzz to do it.

“I want to thank everybody who has helped us raise money and everyone who has given me help over the last 12 months.”

Meanwhile more than 40 swimmers braved freezing temperatures on New Year’s Eve to plunge into Whitehaven harbour.

For the past nine years, the event which is organised by a group of workers at Sellafield’s Thorp Plant, has taken place off South Beach.

Money raised will go towards sending six children who have special needs from west Cumbria to Lourdes, France.

John O’Brien, from the Thorp Fundraising Group, dressed up as a yellow and purple jester to take part in the dip, watched by more than 250 people.

He said: “The water in the harbour was completely frozen, but in the sea it was ok.”

Children’s charity fundraiser Ann Marie Rogan, of Kells, also took part and said: “It was fantastic. The support and atmosphere has been absolutely brilliant.

“It was cold, but we had an adrenaline rush and could not feel the cold water. I could only feel the cold when I came back out!”

Mike Mckenzie, photographer for the Whitehaven News took part in the event for the second time this year dressed in a Santa outfit. He said: “I have been taking photos of the event for years and always told the swimmers to stay in the water for longer.

“Eventually they said I should take part in it too. I didn’t notice the cold straight away and had a dance in the water before I came back out. Everyone has raised money for worthy charities.

“I have raised £70 for local man Michael Kennett’s cancer treatment.”

Jake Mattinson, one of the organisers, said: I think they are mad to do it and need a brain transplant, but they have done a good job for fantastic causes.”

Gerard Richardson of Whitehaven Maritime Festival Company sounded the klaxon horn at 12.30pm before the swimmers went into the sea.

Workers at Harbour View Nursing Home took part along with Shaun Barwise of the Three Tuns who was raising money for local man Michael Kennett’s cancer treatment.

After the dip, The Beacon provided free soup and tea.

If you are interested in helping charities call John O’Brien on 01946 592125.


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