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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Cumbrians take the plunge for New Year

They all turned out for Whitehaven’s annual New Year dip – from Popeye to Batman, and choir boys to Britain’s Got Talent star Stavros Flatley.

Nearly 100 costumed or scantily clad people flung themselves into the freezing Irish Sea for the charity event.

The rain eased off and around 300 people lined the harbour to offer support to the swimmers.

Moky instructors got the party started with a warm-up on the harbour, and instructor Chaneed Everett said: “It’s nice to get people warm and put a smile on their face before fear takes over!”

The Whitehaven Town Band led the procession from the bandstand down to the beach for the polar plunge on Golden Sands beach, which was started by Mayor Geoff Garity.

The event raises thousands of pounds for charities. Friends Gavin Bruce, Michael Thirsk, Daniel Chishom and Ryan Brizland joined the Golden Sands Polar Bear Club for the first time and were ‘Dipping for Dawn’ to raise money for motor neurosis disease.

Michael said: “I’m jumping in and straight back out again. I just know it will be baltic!” When the group emerged, however, they were full of adrenaline and promised to do it again next year.

Winners of the fancy dress competition were Hells Bells, who were dressed as gothic Morris dancers and raising money for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Helen Middleton was part of the seven who plunged in and said: “We are not shaking our bells, we are just shivering so much which is making us jingly.”

Organiser Gary Mckeating said: “Early in the week we were worried with so much bad weather if it would go ahead, but we have increased safety measures and I’m happy everything is back on track.”

Dressed in his usual bowler hat and dinner jacket, Gary added: “It really is a great way to see out the new year and welcome in 2014.”

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