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Sunday, 29 March 2015

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Cumbria Thrill-seekers brave icy waters in new year’s dip

AN impromptu fundraiser led to three friends plunging into icy waters in a new year’s tradition.

Jumping off the stone pier at Canal Foot, in Ulverston, yesterday afternoon, Kiel Armstrong, Lee Kipling and Gary Smedley braved the icy Morecambe Bay waters to raise money for a children’s charity appeal.

And despite describing the endeavour as “like having knives hitting you”, Mr Armstrong and his friends were so caught up in the spirit of the day, they performed a second “dip” moments after emerging from the freezing water a first time.

The three men spent New Year’s Eve doing a charity pub crawl around Ulverston, after deciding to collect money for the Legacy Cumbria Friendship Group.

Mr Armstrong, 27, from Ulverston, said: “We wanted to raise money for charity and decided on the new year’s dip.

“And someone said if we did it a second time they’d give us more money!

“It’s like knives hitting you. I couldn’t feel my hands when I was trying to swim (back to shore). We’ll be doing it again next year for a different charity.”

Meanwhile, at Earnse Bay, Walney, yesterday morning, Royal Marine Commando Mark Birrell and friend Bradley Palfreyman raced into the surf as part of the New Year’s Day traditional dip.

The 29-year-old, from Barrow, a member of the Commando Helicopter Force, is due to return to his Somerset-based barracks at the weekend, but decided to take part in the tradition while at home on leave.

He said: “I was walking the dog the other day and I just thought; why not do it?

“I dived in quite early and it was an instant headache.

“The only thing I’ve done similar was in Norway, where, on exercise, they cut holes in the ice and you’ve got to swim underneath from one side to the other.”

Taking part in the dip for a third year, Mr Palfreyman said: “I don’t think you can compare it to anything.”

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock was also among the hardy thrill-seekers to brave the icy waters.

The veteran of four new year’s dips said: “Once you can actually feel your feet again, it’s the most alive you will ever feel.”

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