By Kelly Wickham
East Wittering beach was filled with brave swimmers taking on an annual new year challenge.
Around 227 dippers braved the cold sea temperatures to take part in the annual 1st Birdham and Witterings Scout group’s New Year’s Day Big Dip.
They were watched by around 2,000 spectators from the beach and promenade at the end of Shore Road, East Wittering.
Friends, Angelique McGuigan, Sylvia Pyne and Allison Guinness dressed from head to toe as film favourite, The Joker.
Angelique from Bracklesham who has taken part in the event for the past six years said it was a great way to see in the new year.
“We saw the movie The Joker a few months ago and thought, that’s it, that’s the outfit we will be wearing.
“I absolutely love this event. It’s a great way to see in the new year, and actually the new decade. We will be back again next year!
“The temperature wasn’t too bad this year. The sea was cold but the air temperature was definitely warmer so I’m not shivering now.”
The popular 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.
Group Scout leader, Ray Nye said: “I know I say the same thing every year, but we can’t believe how many people are taking part and watch.
“It’s getting so popular, we were worried we might have to cap the number of entries, but of course it’s a public space!
“We have to say a huge thank you to all the residents and visitors who support us every year.
“The general public make the event the success that it is – also the Shore Pub for the use of their premises, Calamity’s for the catering, Hawkins and Smith for extra signage, St John’s Ambulance and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.”
The new year event which is run by the Scout Group for many year, follows its Santa Sleigh event around Birdham, Bracklesham Bay and the Witterings before Christmas.
Monies raised by both events will be put towards the re-building of their long awaited HQ along with the annual running costs of the group.
Money will also go toward funding for a scout, young leader and a leader to attend the Jamboree in Poland later this year.
Andrew Wright and his two sons, 14-year-old Noah and 11-year-old Hugo, used a selection of random items they found for their fancy dress, including top hats and ties.
Andrew said: “This was our first time doing the dip but it was great! It was really good fun, but certainly cold. They have been really looking forward to it. Certainly yesterday and this morning.”
Noah said: “It was colder than I thought it would be, but we will definitely be doing it again.”
Theresa Vine and Mandy Simmons from the Witterings dressed as Batman and Robin for their third dip.
Mandy said: “It was amazing! This was our third year and every year the turn-out is bigger and better. It’s got such a family atmosphere, it’s fantastic.
“Last year we were Rastafarians, the year before that we were nuns, this year we are Batman and Robin and next year, watch this space.”
Carl Debeger dipped for the second year and said it’s something he now does since moving to the area.
He said: “It’s a traditional thing to do around here. It’s got a good atmosphere and raises money for the scouts.
“Last year I wore a Union Jack onsie and this year I am David Hasslehoff,.It’s Baywatch, it’s appropriate for the beach.”
Jill Lawrence, aged 76 did the dip with her daughter Fiona Lawrence and friend, Zena McCarthy.
Zena said: “My legs were freezing, but it’s not too bad. It was our first time doing it.”
Jill added: “I just wanted to do it. It was to say we had done it, something for the family memory box! We will be back next year.”