It seemed like a good idea last year when the sun was shining!

THE BIG CHILL Brave swimmers take to the water in the New Year's Day plunge in aid of the GAFIRS charities at Stokes Bay, Gosport.  Pictures: Ian Hargreaves  (114525-5)
THE BIG CHILL Brave swimmers take to the water in the New Year's Day plunge in aid of the GAFIRS charities at Stokes Bay, Gosport. Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (114525-5)
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There was a collective loud shriek as people ran into the Solent for a New Year dip.

At an uncomfortable 9C, people of all ages yelped and laughed through the agony as they took part in the New Year’s Day Swim at Stokes Bay, Gosport.

CHILL POWER Gosport FC feel the cold after taking to the cold waters of the Solent.  (114525-10)

CHILL POWER Gosport FC feel the cold after taking to the cold waters of the Solent. (114525-10)

There was a sea of weird and wonderful costumes, including Fred Flintstone, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and a chimney sweep.

Braver people simply went into the sea with their swimming costumes.

Hundreds gathered on the beach to watch the spectacle.

The event is an annual event for the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) and each year raises several thousands of pounds to help keep the life-saving service going.

Starting her 2012 with a refreshing dip was grandmother-of-six Jan Almond, of Melville Road, Gosport.

As well as supporting GAFIRS, she was hoping to raise £500 for Gosport Citizen’s Advice Bureau, where she volunteers.

‘The adrenaline rush is phenomenal,’ she said.

‘When you come out of the sea, there’s hundreds of people on the beach and it’s just the most amazing thing. I love it!

‘It’s freezing, but you don’t care because it’s for a good cause.’

The event has become a family affair for the Bohannans, of School Road, Elson.

They take part in the event every year – on the condition they must be dressed in what they were wearing the night before.

John Bohannan, 47, dressed as Ali Baba, while his son Gary, 26, came as Fred Flintstone, and his other son Danny, 19, was Doctor Who.

‘We just do it because it’s fun,’ laughed John.

School friends Kirstie Lucas, 14, and Marcie Williams, 15, jumped into the sea in their pyjamas to help raise money for a trip to Malawi next summer to help orphaned children.

The pair, who attend Bay House School in Gosport, were joined by their local neighbours Linda Rich, 42, and Janet Jones, 45, who live in Park Road, Alverstoke.

‘It seemed like a good idea last year when the sun was shining!’ said Mrs Jones.

Within a few minutes – or a few seconds for some - people decided it was time to dry off.

The crew of GAFIRS were on stand-by throughout the event.

Mike Allen, operational vice-chairman, said: ‘It’s the main fundraising event of the year for us and it gives us an opportunity to showcase GAFIRS.’

Meanwhile, at Horsea Lake physical training instructors from the Royal Navy also braved the icy waters – aided by flippers and inflatables – to raise money for The Royal Navy Benevolent Trust.