England

Hundreds across England take part in New Year dips

Whitley Bay New Year dip Image copyright PA
Image caption Swimmers in Whitley Bay were serenaded by a pop-up choir

Hundreds of people across England have taken to the sea in fundraising New Year dips.

One of the largest took place in Gosport, Hampshire, where 384 bathers swam the Solent to raise cash for a lifeboat charity.

More than 150 people in Whitley Bay were serenaded by pop-up choir as they took to the near-freezing North Sea.

In Scarborough, members of the town's Lions Club also took to the sea to raise cash for local charities.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Most bathers didn't stay in the Solent for long
Image copyright PA
Image caption Hundreds turned out to see bathers take to the sea at Scarborough

The Gosport event, at Stokes Bay raises about £4,000 each year for the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs).

Fundraising officer James Baggott said: "It's one of those strange, local traditions where people in the local area decide to take a dip in the Solent - but it's a great way for us of raising funds and showing the local community that we are there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, on duty to save lives.

"We are not part of the RNLI so events like this are really important for us to raise money."

Participant Jade Slater, 21, a student nurse, said: "I always take part, it's a bit crazy but it's great fun and a great way to start the new year and to raise money for charity as well."

The Gafirs independent lifeboat station is run by 90 volunteers who last year gave 12,000 hours of their time to the service.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Lions Club organise the annual Scarborough dip
Image copyright PA
Image caption Temperatures were near-freezing in the North Sea
Image copyright Beccy Owen
Image caption More than 60 singers serenaded swimmers in Whitley Bay

In Whitley Bay, bathers, many from the town's Panama Swimming Club, which was formed 87 years ago, used the event to raise cash for a range of local charities.

This year they were joined by dozens of singers who formed a pop-up choir to serenade the swimmers.

Musician Beccy Owens, which organised the singing group, also collected money for local charities.

Ms Owens said: "Our pop-up choir brings together people of all ages and abilities and backgrounds, working and sharing together in song and laughter.

"I've been so impressed and heartened on hearing what courage and sensitivity can be conjured by veritable strangers who come together in song.

"We've helped to raise hundreds for charity and feel very glad and grateful to be able to support local causes in this way."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Almost 400 took part in the Gosport event
Image copyright PA
Image caption A swimmer and his dog make a splash in Scarborough

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