St Albans’ polar plungers take a freezing dip for charity

Polar Bear Plunge 2017 - Jenny Smith @ DigitalJen

Polar Bear Plunge 2017 - Jenny Smith @ DigitalJen - Credit: Archant

Batman and Batgirl, a Transformer robot, Elvis, Frankenstein’s Monster and a Star Wars Stormtrooper were among more than 100 plucky plungers who had a chilling start to the year.

They all jumped into the freezing waters of St Albans Sub Aqua Club’s pool in Cottonmill Lane to help raise funds for Earthworks St Albans and Rennie Grove Hospice Care.

Held on New Year’s Day, the second annual Polar Bear Plunge was prompted by local demand, and once again run by North Pole trekker Ed Suttie and his wife Clare.

Cold wind and heavy rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the plucky plungers and their soggy spectators, with competitors ranging in age from six to 68.

They were all helped along by warming soup, hot chocolate and cake, plus music from local talent Holly Graham, the Melon Pips, Henry Nurse and Purple Day Band.

The plunge was officially opened by Mayor Cllr Frances Leonard, who said: “This was a fabulous event to get the New Year off to a memorable start. I enjoyed myself immensely and was hugely impressed by the number of people who braved the freezing water as well as the effort they made to dress up in truly eye-catching outfits. All those who took the plunge certainly deserved their medal and their warming cup of hot chocolate.

“I congratulate Ed Suttie for starting this marvellous event which raises money for some very good causes.”

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The plunge has raised £4,243.82 to date - £2,733.19 split between Earthworks St Albans and Rennie Grove Hospice Care, and a further £1,510.63 raised by four individuals for other good causes.

Lucy Dimbylow was fundraising for Mind, the mental health charity, with her 11 year old son Tom: “I love outdoor and open water swimming, so when I heard about the Polar Bear Plunge, it seemed a good way to start the New Year as I mean to go on. took the opportunity to raise money for the mental health charity Mind, as I suffer from mental health issues myself and feel very strongly about raising awareness and speaking openly about mental illness. I set a sponsorship target of £250 and am thrilled that we smashed it, raising over £600. Jumping into the freezing water was both painful and invigorating! There was a great sense of camaraderie, and it felt like a really positive way to begin 2017.”

Daisy Nichols, 11, raised £165 for the Rainbow Child Foundation: “My New Year’s resolution is to get off the computer and do something useful for the world. I am entering pageants, creating fundraising events and spreading the word about the great work of the Rainbow Child Foundation. I love the charity’s strapline: humanity is our race and love is our religion.”

Helen Whittington from DJ’s Jungle Adventure indoor play centre jumped with her daughter Leah: “It was exhilarating and a great way to get out on New Year’s Day! Good family fun - although the plunge was a body shock - that brings the whole community together - seeing my St Albans business contacts and DJ’s customers doing something crazy for charity!”

Further donations are welcome here.