Mum to brave cold for New Year's charity dip

Government sells off HMS Ocean for £84m

A mum will plunge into icy waters to raise cash for a once-in-a-lifetime trip for her son's rugby club.

Helen Kitson, 32, of Findon Road, Gosport, has agreed to brave the waters of the Solent in a charity swim on New Year's Day.

She hopes to raise money towards the cost of sending the Gosport and Fareham Rugby Football Club to South Africa in 2012.

Once there, Helen's 14-year-old son Luke and his team-mates will train, play rugby and carry out charity work in one of the country's poorest regions.

'I just want to help them get there, any way I can,' said Helen.

'It's for a good cause. I'm going to scream a lot, I'm terrified, but the experience the lads are going to have in South Africa as a result will be amazing.

'These kids won't be able to do something like this again.

'It will be the last time they get to spend together as a team, because in 2012 they will all be of the age where they are ready to move on from the under-16s.

'It will be a perfect way for them to round things off.'

The trip is thought to cost around 50,000, with the team's coaches paying for their own travel.

They will fly to Cape Town, and then visit Khayelitsha, one of South Africa's largest townships.

'Not only will the boys be training and playing rugby but the idea is for them to see the differences between two countries and get true experience of poverty, which will have powerful impact on them,' added Helen.

The club aims to raise the full cost of the trip to ensure none of the boys miss out.

'It's going to be brilliant,' said 14-year-old Joe Batley, of Elson Road, Gosport. 'The club has been a part of my life since I was eight years old.

'The trip to South Africa will symbolise the end in a way because we will all be moving on.'

Each year, hundreds of swimmers immerse themselves in the icy waters of the Solent on January 1 to raise money for charities.

Spectators should arrive by 11.45am at the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service Lifeboat Station, in Stokes Bay, Gosport.