Keen swimmers from the Chichester area braved the new year sea for a dip to help raise funds for charity, many wearing fancy dress.
There were 196 dippers in total who braved the cold to take part in the 1st Birdham and Witterings Scout group’s annual New Year’s Day Big Dip.
They were watched by more than 2,500 spectators from the beach and promenade at the end of Shore Road, East Wittering.
The event, which has been held for many years by the 1st Birdham and Witterings Scout group, brings spectators and dippers from far afield to observe and take part in this fun event.
Rachel Glover, a parish councillor from Birdham, and her friend, Jody Jakab, from Boxgrove, joined in for the event.
Rachel said: “This New Year’s Day had perfect conditions for The Big Dip, the sun was shining and it was a lovely way to celebrate the coming year with our local community and friends, all in aid of a great charity. That said, the sea was pretty cold!
“I did it because it was a fun and unique thing to do on New Year’s Day and will definitely be looking to do it next year!”
Group Scout leader, Ray Nye said: “This year again exceeded our expectations in the number of spectators and entrants who took part.
“Dippers did us proud again, dressing in a variety of costumes which the spectators were treated to.
“Last year, we had around 125 dippers and every year I say the same thing, more people have come out than ever before!
“We would like to thank the following for supporting this event; The Shore pub for the use of their premises, St John’s Ambulance, the Wittering Fire Service, ensuring our safety in the sea,
Hawkins and Smith for help advertising the event ,along with Beaver Tool Hire for the loan of their beach safety markers.
“The funds collected at this year’s event will be put towards the groups much needed ‘rebuilding fund’ to replace our well loved old building in Birdham,which has seen better days which is still standing firm at present. The balance will support the group’s annual running costs.”
Angelique McGuigan and Sylvia Pyne, friends from Bracklesham, have been taking part in the Big Dip for the past five years.
Angelique said: “We have done the big dip for the past five years on the trot. We put no thought into our fancy dress outfits this year, despite previous years spending months planning it.
“I came down to the beach this morning and grabbed some seaweed and shells and even my trident. I had an old tiara left over from Christmas!”
Sylvia added: “It’s great doing this, it’s the best way to start the new year and we are part of the local community and donating money to the Scouts.
“It’s actually really warm in the sea today. We even went back in for another dip!”
Sisters, Faye and Libby Costello dressed as a minion and a Toy Story alien to take part in the dip.
Libby said: “We have never done it before, this is the first time. We watched last year and decided to do it. I couldn’t do it on my own so I got my sister to come down from Sheffield and do it with me.”
Faye added: “Our costumes were bought by our dad from a charity shop and once we have washed them they will be donated back. It was cold in the sea but the day is mild so it’s not too bad in there! I think we have started a family tradition now and each year we will take one more person in with us!”
Described as an inspiration by a member of the crowd, 66-year-old Norman Walsh, from Bracklesham, took part in the dip with his family despite using two crutches.
He said: “The family were doing it so I thought I would too. I’ve always been pretty adventurous. It was lukewarm but I did enjoy it and will be doing it again next year!”
The Scout group has over 80 young people attending each week and is so busy it now has waiting lists for Beavers and the Cub sections.
If you think you could offer your support to helping the group, please email the Group Scout leader Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org