‘Brrr-ave’ bathers do charity proud

Christmas Day charity dip

Christmas Day charity dip

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TWO groups of fearless charity champions took the plunge into icy cold sea waters to raise hundreds of pounds for good causes.

Groups of swimmers braved the bracing waters on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The Christmas Day swimmers met opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel stripping down to their trunks and bikinis to take on the rough seas off St Leonards.

The event was organised by Ian Ashley-Smith, 60, of St Helens Park Road, who works as a solicitor at Heringtons Solicitors.

He said: “In my job I come across a lot of people who have been helped by St Michael’s Hospice, It has a very important role and is a good cause.”

Ian was joined by his wife Andrea, 47, and daughters Rachel, 27, and Georgia, 20, as well as friends and members of Hastings Athletics Club.

He added: “Last year it was freezing, this year the sea was rough but not as cold. It was a fantastic start to the day.”

Married father-of-one, Paul McCleery, 38, of Lynwood Close, St Leonards, is a personal trainer who also took on the challenge.

He said: “The sea was extremely rough and we struggled to stay on our feet.

“I felt like I was being thrown around in a washing machine but it was a great day and everyone really enjoyed it.” The group raised £625 for St Michael’s Hospice.

The New Year’s Day dippers met at the harbour arm at 11.30am to take advantage of much calmer seas.

Members of the Hastings and St Leonards Swimming Group took part in the dip organised by Old Town resident and businessman Craig Sams.

Craig, aged 67, said: “The water was three degrees warmer this year which was a help.

“It was a good turn out but we always struggle to get young people under 20 out. Maybe us older folk are made of sterner stuff.”

The group raised £250 for the Hastings Lifeboat service.