Charity dip offers cold comfort for St Albans Polar Bear Plungers

PUBLISHED: 13:06 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:32 03 January 2018

Polar Bear Plunge 2018 St Albans

Polar Bear Plunge 2018 St Albans

Jenny Smith DigitalJen

There was a bracing start to the New Year for the 168 plucky participants in the 2018 Polar Bear Plunge.

It was cold comfort for those who took a daring dive into the icy waters of St Albans Sub Aqua Club’s outdoor pool on Cottonmill Lane on Monday.

The third annual event was once again organised by Clare Suttie and husband Ed, a former North Pole explorer, and sponsored by Atlas Translations and the St Albans Businesses networking group.

Spectators enjoyed hot refreshments, musical entertaiment, a bar and a raffle, while watching their fearless friends and family members jump into the chilly pool in aid of local charities Earthworks St Albans, Rennie Grove Hospice Care and Home-Start Herts, with more than £4,800 raised to date.

Clare said: “Despite worries maybe we wouldn’t lure enough people into the unheated, outdoor pool, the community excelled and a record 168 plucky plungers jumped in this year!”

Costumed participants included some Santas, Banana Man, Fred Flintstone, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, CJ from Baywatch, nuns, priests, elves and pirate Jack Sparrow.

There were also teams from the Lower Red Lion Pub, Welwyn Garden City Ladies Hockey Club, and eight firefighters from St Albans’ Green Watch.

After previous years plunging as a Victorian bather and city gent, David Forbes-Whitehead was back to take to the water for a third time, on this occasion dressed as a cricketer.

He said: “It was definitely colder than previously and made for an entertaining start to the year. I’m already looking forward to next year and have my thinking cap on for the fancy dress!”

Other participants included penguin Mairead Waugh, following in the wake of her husband Liam who was last year’s Scotsman. She turns 50 this year and is planning 50 milestone activities, with the Polar Bear Plunge first on the list.

Regular Lucy Dimbylow was back with her son Tom. Lucy has written about her mental health struggles and last year was fundraising for MIND. This year she has raised over £260 for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Suzy Moody, strategic manager at Home-Start, also joined in the fun and took the plunge: “Home-Start was delighted to be one of the Plunge’s charities this year.

It was a great day and lovely to see so many people getting involved; the buzz and atmosphere was awesome. To say I enjoyed plunging may be stretching it a little, but it will certainly be one of my more memorable New Year’s Days!”

Deputy Mayor Cllr Jamie Day was there on the day and said afterwards: “I was inspired by Ed Suttie and the plungers - of all ages and in an impressive variety of costumes - who took part in this year’s Polar Bear Plunge. It is a fantastic community effort to raise funds for three important local charities. Thanks to everyone who either took the plunge or turned up in support.”

Gillian Barnett, director of fundraising at Rennie Grove Hospice Care said: “On behalf of Rennie Grove I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day.

“It was an impressive achievement and by braving the icy waters of the pool they have raised much needed funds to support local charities. Well done to everyone involved - not forgetting the organisers.”

Bianca Badham, joint project leader at Earthworks, added: “We are overwhelmed by the continued support from Ed and Clare Suttie and the success of their Polar Bear Plunge. It is such a unique way of bringing the community together, to celebrate the New Year and make a real difference. The money raised will support our upcoming Earthworks on Wheels project, providing essential garden maintenance services for vulnerable people in our local community.”

For more pictures from the event see the Polar Bear Plunge St Albans 2018 page on Facebook, or check out the website at Donations are still welcome, please visit for details on how you can help out.

All photos purchased from Striking Places Photography will help raise more funds - visit their website at

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