Covid: Festive charity dips cancelled due to pandemic

Covid: Festive charity dips cancelled due to pandemic

Scores of bracing sea swims due to take place around England over the festive period have been cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

“Dippers” would usually brave the chilly waters dressed as Father Christmas, elves, or even Christmas puddings to raise money for charity.

But events have been scrapped amid concerns about keeping people safe from the virus.

Some are asking people to take part in virtual challenges instead.

The Ice Warriors, from Hull, took the plunge earlier in December after Covid put paid to the annual New Year’s Day event in Hornsea, East Yorkshire.

Andy Butler, from the group, said: “We normally have a Christmas party, and attend the New Year’s Day dip, but obviously we can’t this year.

“So, we thought we would combine the two and have a charity swim.”

Mr Butler said he had never known the event, organised by Hornsea Inshore Rescue, to be cancelled before – “even when the weather was horrible”.

He said it would normally attract a large crowd and raise about £5,000 to help with the costs of running the lifeboat service.

“We raised about £600,” he said. “It’s a big drop but better than nothing.”

Hornsea Inshore Rescue said fundraising efforts this year had “completely dried up”.

Spokeswoman Sue Hickson-Marsay said: “We need £35,000 to £40,000 a year to function and we’ve had less than £10,000 this year.”

Others, including the Whitby District Lions Club, which organises the resort’s annual Boxing Day dip, have also been hit.

Brian Harrison, from the charity, said: “Last year, we had a record-breaking response with over 200 dippers taking part and at least 1,000 spectators supporting the event.

“As a result, the club raised over £14,000 for various local and national charities.”

The charity is instead hosting a virtual ice bucket-style challenge in a bid to raise cash.

The annual dip in Redcar, on the North Sea coast, is another long-standing event to be cancelled this year.

The 2019 event attracted about 360 swimmers and raised in the region of £40,000, the local Rotary Club said.

It too is asking people to take part in “a virtual dip” at home.

Norfolk’s annual Boxing Day dip, which claims to be one of the biggest in England, has been cancelled for the first time in its history.

The event in Cromer, organised by North Norfolk Beach Runners, has raised more than £75,000 since it started “as a bit of a dare” in 1985.

Clive Hedges, from the group, said: “We just felt that under the circumstances it was best to cancel it and focus on a fantastic event next year.

“It’s hugely disappointing but there really was no option.

“Maybe we could’ve kept the dippers safe in a Covid-secure environment, but it is ultimately the crowds we could not keep safe and they’re the ones that provide the wonderful donations to charity.”

While hopeful “normality will resume again for next year”, Mr Bridges said there were some who would argue taking a dip in freezing cold waters on Boxing Day “just isn’t normal” anyway.

Leave a Reply