Mayor shows bottle with Boxing Day bathers.
Hundreds turned out at Littlehaven Beach, South Shields, this morning as the temperature gauge refused to rise above zero Celsius in what has now become an annual Boxing Day tradition, threatening to rival the other local “dip” in Sunderland. Having consumed far too much food yesterday I took a healthy walk down to the beach and back to record these scenes for you, and to allow our ex-pat Geordies abroad to appreciate the fact that Sanddancer hospitality and charitable good works continue on strongly.
As the crowds gathered in the “grassy” car park next to the Littlehaven Hotel, and having raised hundreds of pounds of sponsorship for the privilege of splashing around in the freezing cold North Sea, there were three surprises in store, (a) folks stripping off in cars and walking out into the chilly morning air, (b) the salt laden sands on the beach were frozen solid and iced over, and (c) the Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr. John Anglin was mingling with the crowds dressed in swimming shorts and a flimsy T-shirt – you cannot accuse him of being short of “bottle”.
Shields Gazette reporter Johnny Wilson was his usual zany self, trying the goods in any story before writing about it, he must be the joker in the pack at Chapter Row, and probably the first on their list when party invitations are handed out, although their “snapper” cannot have been pleased (after following Johnny about, the waves gave his canvass shoes a good wash!). I also bumped into fellow Curly’s Corner Shop Message Board members Mr. Angry, Party Girl, and Sless, along with his good wife Deborah who is Westoe’s cancer charity fund raising champion in her own right, then there was former Mayor’s Secretary Fay Cunningham and her partner along with folks from the Missions to Seamen doing their bit to help out after their recent salvation.
At 11:00 the chilled congregation raised the temperature by rushing past me in their bid to become the first to enter the sea, and Cancer Connections, the South Shields based support charity beamed a huge sigh as they neared the target amount needed to provide a respite care facility. Arms and legs and other body parts covered in fancy dress thrashed about in frenzied motions, some even went for the full body immersion and swim, but before long they were out to get quickly dried and changed into warmer clothing as cups of hot tea and coffee were offered along with warming lentil soup!
I tip my hat to the Mayor, I was not expecting him to plunge into the icy waters, and as somebody commented to me on Twitter, as an adopted outsider he certainly displays a lot of passion for this area! Wouldn’t it be great if a few more of our local politicians decided to join in next year and washed away their sins! I congratulate all those who turned out this morning to provide us with this spectacle and to raise money for such a worthwhile local cause.
Well done to all of them!
Here’s a quick video that I shot when I was down there (trying to use two cameras at once wasn’t easy!)
Click the thumbnails to enlarge.