A host of kind-hearted residents exchanged the ir Christmas sofas for the sea with the Boxing Day Dip in aid of Worthing Hospital.
Despite confusion arising after a message on its website announced it was not going ahead, weather conditions improved enough for many to feel confident in taking the plunge to fulfil their charity donations.
There were plenty of colourful sights on the day – including entrants sporting “mankinis” as dozens took to the water in support of a million pound fundraising drive to improve vital surgical facilities. It is hoped thousands of pounds will be added to Love Your Hospital’s charity tally, which is going towards completing the refurbishment of the hospital’s new cardiac cath lab. This extremely valuable additional facility handles a number of medical issues including heart procedures. The Friends of Worthing Hospitals group has already raised nearly half the total for the appeal, with the new facility in the final stages of being equipped.
Tabatha Stones, 42, of Roedean Road, Worthing, believed the dip had been a success.
She said: “It was brilliant. I have done this with my friend’s daughter as wanted to support her. I think the care staff at the hospital can be amazing and we’re hoping to raise about £200 from today.”
Leah Burch, 17, from Worthing, felt taking on the event had strong personal significance. She said: “ I’m doing this as one of my family has been diagnosed with cancer and has been treated at Worthing Hospital. It was really cold in the water but have raised £110 so far and my family are proud I’ve done this.”
Another teenager doing his bit for the cause was Jamie Witten. The 17 year-old, of Vale Drive, joined friends dressed as Baywatch style lifeguards for the event, which proved to be a memorable occasion.
He said: “It was really cold in the water, we struggled to get back out again after the waves came crashing up the beach, but it wasn’t dangerous. It was well worth doing it.”
Mark Hilder, 44, of Copse View, East Preston, also braved the chilly December waters near Worthing Pier. He said: “I did this last year and the conditions were similar. It’s a worthy cause and is also something that’s good fun, too.
“The hospital supports the whole community and since its future was under threat, along with St Richard’s Hospital, people have really supported it more than ever. It is a great feeling running down the beach into the water, though my feet are a bit pink, now, from the stones!”
Steve Mort-Hill, 41, from Worthing said: “I am out on the water here a lot of the time, but I’m normally wearing a wet-suit, which we’re not today. It was breathtakingly cold in there, but we did it. I haven’t had much to do with the hospital other than when my boy was ill and they were really good with him, so we’ll do anything we can do to support it.”
Seb Provette, 17, from Worthing, also found it a rewarding event. He added: “It was really cold getting out of the water, but the adrenaline gets you through it. I think this is a very good cause to be raising money for.”
Lesley-Anne Lloyd, of Love Your Hospital, said: “We were sorry weather conditions meant we had to cancel the event. However, we know people went along anyway and are glad they are safe.
“We are grateful for their generosity and for that of everyone who has supported the hospital this year.”