Brave swimmers take icy plunge for Ellenor Lions Hospice

Emily Howell, of Penhill Road, Bexley, described the experience as both

Emily Howell, of Penhill Road, Bexley, described the experience as both "terrible and amazing" after completing the challenge and raising almost £500.

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Brave swimmers plunged into freezing water to help raise funds for north Kent charity Ellenor Lions Hospice.

Crowds descended on the icy outdoor pool at St Julian’s Club, Sevenoaks, as a daring bunch of 35 supporters took part in the charity’s annual sponsored Chilli Dip Cold Water Swim challenge last month.

The dippers were cheered on by more than 100 spectators who turned out to support them and Kent’s only children’s hospice at home charity.

Emily Howell, of Penhill Road, Bexley, described the experience as both "terrible and amazing" after completing the challenge and raising almost £500.

The 30-year-old mother-of-two, said: "As soon as I dived in the impact of the freezing water took my breath away, and I struggled to swim.

"I managed 11 lengths and despite it being really cold, I actually really enjoyed myself.

"I’m also chuffed that I’ve raised nearly £500 for such an amazing local charity.

"I would encourage everyone to do it next year. chYps are reliant on the community’s support and I’m just glad I could do my bit to help local families in need of care."

Dartford supporter Abigail Page also took the plunge and her two colleagues from Page & Small Opticians in Charlton, who raised nearly £500.

Following their icy plunge, challengers were rewarded with a bowl of steaming hot chilli and rice to help them thaw out and enjoyed entertainment from Keith Lemon look-a-like Sidcup DJ Tony Durrant.

The participants collectively raised more than £5000 for the charity and the money will go towards delivering vital end-of-life, cancer and respite care to seriously ill babies, children and young adults in the comfort of their own homes across Bexley and Kent.

Rachel Holweger, director of fundraising at chYps, said: "I was so impressed with everyone who turned out to support the event and of course our brave Chilli’ Dippers.

"It was a very cold day, and the pool was a bitter seven degrees, but everyone was warmed by the fantastic atmosphere.

"As a charity, we are reliant on the community for funding to provide respite and end of life care for babies, children and young adults in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.

"We are so grateful to everyone who helped to raise this fantastic amount, which will enable us to care for even more families in Kent who desperately need our care and support."

The chYps Chilli Dip Cold Water Swim challenge will be returning to St Julian’s Club in 2015.

If you would like take part in the dip or another fundraising challenge please contact emma.whittington@chyps.org or call 01322 221315.

For further information about the charity visit www.chyps.org

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