Record numbers get a chilly start to the year in Gosport for good causes

The Gafirs New Year's Day swim 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves
The Gafirs New Year's Day swim 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Sir Vince Cable is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats

Sir Vince Cable is new Liberal Democrats leader

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A RECORD turnout braved chilly waters for an annual New Year’s Day dip.

Swimmers in colourful costumes raising cash for more than 40 different charities took part in the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service swim at Stokes Bay, Gosport.

From left, Peter Winterbottom, Scott Chesney, and Andrea Ridley.'Picture Ian Hargreaves

From left, Peter Winterbottom, Scott Chesney, and Andrea Ridley.'Picture Ian Hargreaves

Crowds cheered them on at Gafirs’ station in Lifeboat Lane as 478 people went in the water at midday.

Among them was Phil Scott, 67, of Old Turn Pike, Fareham, who was raising cash for an Alzheimer’s support group.

His wife Carol, 67, has had the condition for seven years.

Surrounded by friends Phil took the plunge. ‘It was good,’ he said.

Picture Ian Hargreaves

Picture Ian Hargreaves

‘I went right under. We’ve got a good crowd here. We’ve been planning on doing this for a year. We’re ready for next year.’

He raised £400 with husband and wife swimmer Henry, 67, and Angela Price, 65, Peter Thomas, 61, and his wife Melanie, also 61.

Phil added: ‘It’s all out friends that are supporting us which is good, we’re hoping to raise £500.’

Nine-year-old Bo Wakley raised more than £400 for The Haven Wessex, a breast cancer charity in Titchfield.

Amy Thompson  Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Amy Thompson Picture: Ian Hargreaves

She said: ‘This charity is really close to my heart as it has affected my family.’

Teenager Amy Thomson spent five minutes in the water. It was the 19-year-old’s first time at the swim and she was raising cash for charity Water Aid.

‘It’s cured my hangover,’ Amy, of Gosport, said.

The annual event sees people raising cash for charities, including for Gafirs.

Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Picture: Ian Hargreaves

It survives on donations to keep running and offers protection for water users along the coast.

Gosport mayor Keith Farr, the joint-president of Gafirs, started the swim.

He said: ‘It’s brilliant, it’s very nice to see how many people are here.

‘It’s an honour to see everybody who has turned up.’

Mayor of Fareham Cllr Mike Ford also got stuck in and joined the swimmers.

Gafirs chairman Keith Thomas said: ‘It went really well and there was a record number of swimmers, swimming for 41 charities and Gafirs.

‘Gafirs made £2,436 and the other charities will have made money through sponsorship.

‘It was very well supported with about 2,000 people supporting us.

‘The weather was kind, we had an excellent turnout and everyone enjoyed themselves.’

He thanked Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for their help on the day and the Fighting Cocks pub for providing hot drinks.