Fearless swimmers jump into the sea for Gosport New Year's Day fundraiser
HUNDREDS of keen swimmers have taken a dip in the Solent to raise money for charity.
The annual New Year's Day swim at at Stokes Bay, Gosport, saw people from all walks of life '“Â from politicians to rugby players '“Â jump into the sea.
Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service is an independent lifeboat service run by volunteers from the area.
The mayor of Gosport, Councillor Diane Furlong, and Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Lee Mason, led the charge into the water, followed by more than 350 shivering swimmers.Â
Dawn McLeod, 65, jumped into the water dressed as a whoopie cushion.
She said: 'I've done this for three years before now, and always dressed up for it.Â
'It's nice to do something for charity like this '“Â as well as helping Gafirs, I swam for Check Your Heart.
'Funnily enough, I think it's always colder before you go in. I don't mind it too much once I'm in the water.'
Mandy Clements, 44 from Locks Heath, took part alongside her friends Louise Whatmore and Charlotte Chambers.
Mandy said: '˜This is the first year we've done it '“Â we wanted to do something different to see in the new year.
'We were told beforehand that it's really cold to start off with, but it's true that you do get used to it as you swim around.'
Jo Downton, 67, from Gosport, said: '˜It's great to do something like this because Gafirs is a local charity and they do so much for people around here.
'˜This was the first time I have taken part, although I have done a lot of swimming around here.
'˜The water is incredibly cold but it was certainly worth it.'
Samuel Rushent and Robert Ellis, both 16, were raising money for Gosport and Fareham RFC.
Robert said: '˜It was actually quite a lot warmer than I had expected '“Â but once you come back out it's absolutely freezing.'
Samuel said: '˜We're raising money for the club because we're going on a tour in Canada later this year, so we wanted to raise some money for that.'
Swim stalwart Paula Reid, 51, said that supporting a service like Gafirs is incredibly important.
She explained: '˜I have done this for the past five years '“Â but this event is always very special.
'˜It brings everyone together which is really nice, and it's great for both Gafirs and the local community together.
'˜I think it's important for us to remember how important Gafirs is, and the volunteers that give their all to keep us safe out on the water.'